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HIS 



OPPORTUNITY 



HENRY CLEMENS PEARSON. 



BOSXON: 

James H. Earle, Publisher, 

178 Washington Street. 

1888. 



Copyright, j886. 

By Jambs H. Earle. 

All rights reserved. 



TO MY WIFE. 



CONTENTS. 



I. A Lazy Resolve 9 

II. A Stranger in Town 24 

III. "Sam" . 37 

IV. In the Saddle S7 

V "One of Us" 6S 

-^ A Favor 83 

Vl . Kerosene as a Beverage 100 

VIII. Conquered 114 

IX. The Tigers Number One 127 

X. Recognized 140 

XL In Remembrance of Me 153 

XII. Tam's Secret 167 

XI I I. What the Church Did About It . . . 180 

XIV. Tom's Request 196 

XV. Tennis and Temperance 212 

XVI. The Queer Fisherman 230 

XVI I. Mrs. Bowman's Burglar 245 

XVI 1 1. Pfaff's Picnic 258 



CONTENTS. 



XIX. The Night Gang 272 

XX. Two Penitents 288 

XXI. An Accident 301 

XXII. Boiler Number Six 313 

XXIII. Gaffney's Luck 325 

XXIV. Lamson's Triumph 337 

XXV. "As THE Fool Dieth " 349 

XXVI. Down the River 358 

XXVII. Tam's Temptation 375 

XXVIII. Mr. Whitney's Proposal. 392 

XXIX. Breaking the Ring 402 

XXX. A Lesson in Chemistry 409 

XXXI. Trying It On 421 

XXXII. Results 440 



HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



^ . i5(2r7|Y • I vesol^e. 



YOUNG man, in tight-fitting bicycle-suit, 
was walking leisurely down one of the 
broad, gravelled walks of a city park. A 
little in his rear followed a half-dozen street-boys. 
Huddled together, earnestly agitating something, 
they appeared like an animated bale of woolen 
rags, studded with blacking boxes and shocks of 
towy hair. That they were discussing the young 
man could not be doubted. Yet the usual street- 
methods of emphasizing a debate, — with apple- 
cores, lumps of mud, and gutter slang, — were 
entirely absent. There was a subdued air about 
them that argued respect. 

"Starting an orphan asylum, Chamberlain?" 
said a pleasant voice. 



XO HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



The saunterer turned half round, and a look 
of genuine pleasure lighted his face. 

"Hello, Will," he said; "glad to see you." 

"Are you so distinguished that even the boot- 
blacks tender you an ovation, and follow at your 
heels in admiring reverence ? " continued the 
other. 

"I guess so. They seem to think I am worth 
following." 

Then halting, he said, "Well, boys, what is 
it.?" 

"We seen you pull Bob out from under the 
horse-car," said one awkwardly. 

"Yes." 

"An* us fellers thought we'd like ter know 
where a feller like you lived. Your sort is 
awful scarce 'round here." 

The young man laughed. 

"Here is my address," said he, handing a card 
to the speaker. "Any time you or any of your 
friends wish to see me, come to my home. Now 
don't follow us any further, please; it will draw 
a crowd." 

The boys slowly dispersed, and the young man 
and his friend passed on. 

"I want you to come up to my room and 
explain this little episode. It promises to be 
nteresting," said the new comer. 



A LAZY RESOLVE. II 



A short walk brought them to a building 
crowded with lawyers' offices. On one of the 
doors was the name William Marshall; this they 
entered. 

"Now, fire away/' said Will. 

"There is hardly any thing to tell," replied 
his friend, with a litttle reluctance. "I was 
coming up the street just before you met me, 
and started to cross when a horse-car came 
booming along. I hate to hurry when I have 
plenty of time, so I waited to let it pass. 
Meanwhile, one of these street-rats, a boot-black, 
— a mite of a fellow, — who was running in the 
middle of the street, dodged a 'bus, and slip- 
ping, fell right in front of the horses of the 
car. It was down-grade, and I saw that the 
youngster would be run over, so I pulled him 
away." 

"How did you get the tear in your jacket? 
What means all that mud on your limbs, and 
why do you hold your right hand so queerly?" 
asked his friend. 

Chamberlain blushed. 

"You do beat the Dutch, Will, for using your 
eyes. I did not imagine I was so conspicuously 
ragged, muddy, and sprained, as you represent 
The fact is, when I had the little fellow well 
under my arm, the pole between the horsea 



13 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

knocked me down; and if I hadn't managed 
to grasp it with my right hand, and allow myself 
to be dragged a short distance, I 'm afraid we 
should have been hurt." 

**It was a splendid thing to do, and I'm proud 
of you, old boy," exclaimed Will, heartily. " I 
don't wonder the boot-blacks followed you. They 
recognized the real grit in the action. Is your 
hand badly hurt.?" 

"Only sprained a little. I was on my way 
here to tell you that I am going to leave the 
city," said Chamberlain, adroitly turning the con- 
versation, which was becoming uncomfortably full 
of praise. 

"For the summer?" 

"For two years." 

"Two years! Where.?" exclaimed the other. 

"That I cannot tell. If it were possible foe 
me to make known to any one my destination 
and my plans, it should be to you, old fellow; 
but it cannot be done," was the sober reply. 

Will Marshall was silent for some moments. 
He loved his friend with his whole heart, and 
knew that he was in the main a manly, gen- 
erous, good-hearted fellow, but without any par- 
ticular aim in life. Was he going abroad in 
fast company, to spend his fortune in riotous 
living? Was he 



A LAZY RESOLVE. 1 3 



"I am not going on any sort of pleasure-trip; 
I am going where I shall have to buckle right 
down to hard work," said the other, as if he 
divined his friend's thoughts. 

*' I am glad to hear you say that ; but you 
are nqt ashamed of it ? " was the hearty com- 
ment. 

"Am I apt to be ashamed of what I do.^ 
Was I ever ashamed of being lazy?** 

His friend smiled. 

"Two years,** said Chamberlain, as if to him- 
self; "by that time all my friends will have 
forgotten me. I wish I could tell you all about 
the matter. Will ; it is for all the world like a 
fairy-tale, — but I can't.** 

"But you will write .^'* 

"You will receive an occasional letter from 
me through Doctor Ponsonby, and any letters 
left with him will be forwarded to me." 

"One thing,*' said his friend, "would make 
me feel that this mysterious expedition was all 
right: If I knew that you had chosen the one 
Friend to go with you.** 

Chamberlam was silent. He looked at the 
floor and then out of the window, but said 
nothing. 

"Is it not the common-sense way, to drop a 
foolish pride and do right?** 



14 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"Perhaps so; but you know you said that I 
must give up my wine," was the light reply. 

" I simply told you what I had done," re- 
plied Will, earnestly. "If I thought that by 
foregoing any sort of pleasure I could save one 
soul, I would do it." 

"I verily believe you would, for you are gen- 
erous and self-sacrificing; as for me, I'm a 
crooked stick, and always shall be. It runs in 
the blood. There's a car. Good-bye, old boy; 
see you again Saturday." 

Closing the interview summarily, the young 
man ran down the stairs, boarded the car, and 
in the course of half an hour was at home. 

Left an orphan in the care of a busy guar- 
dian when but a child, Tom Chamberlain had 
not been brought up, — he had grown up as he 
could. He had been sent to the best schools, 
had enjoyed excellent instruction in all knowl- 
edge except that which is the beginning of 
wisdom. His chum. Will, was an earnest Chris- 
tian, and he viewed his religion with profound 
respe.:t, but when it was offered him, shook his 
head. It had no charm for him. He wished to 
be lazy; and that sort of life, to his mind, 
meant work. 

As he sat in his handsomely-furnished room, 
smoking a choice cigar, he drew from his pocket 



A LAZY RESOLVE, 15 

a letter, and opening it, began to read. It was 
written in a fine, careful hand, with old-fashioned 
curves and flourishes, and quaint crosses instead 
of periods at the end of sentences. It read: — 

** Steelville, May i, i8 — . 

^'■Nephew Thomas^ — Being about to end a long and 
useless life, I venture to address you. Undoubtedly 
you are aware of the enmity that formerly existed 
between your father and myself. If you are, I beg 
that you will not let it influence you in the least in 
deciding what I am about to request. I can live 
but a few hours. My physician forbids me to write 
even this. 

"I have made a great deal of money in my life- 
time. If you visit my factory you will see more than 
a thousand operatives that I have gathered. They 
are my slaves. I have bound them and ground them 
under my heel for years. Their wretched tenement- 
houses were of my building. The dram-shops were 
allowed by me, and I alone am responsible for their 
existence. Wretched Steep Street, where live my 
slaves, is weighing me down to perdition! It is too 
late for me to do anything ; my race is run. You 
are the last of the family, — my dead sister's son. 
Will you then take my property, take the mill, take 
Steep Street, and do with it as I ought to have 
done? My lawyer will call upon you soon, and ac« 
quaint you with the contents of my will. 

"And now, my nephew, I charge you that you be* 



l6 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

Stow upon Steep Street what I have denied it. Visit 
it and see for yourseU its many needs. 
'* Farewell, 

"ROBERT FLINT." 

The young d;^n read and re-read this letter. It 
was, in his life, a strange occurrence. Hereto- 
fore he had taken almost everything without 
surprise, until he was thought to be one of the 
young Americans whom nothing astonishes. He 
wondered if his uncle knew of his laziness ; of 
his distaste for labor of any kind; of his belief 
that, however good religion might be for others, 
it could be of little advantage to him.? 

What sort of an evangelist would he make ? 
The more he pondered the deeper he sank into 
profound astonishment. Had it been his chum 
who had been chosen he would have thought it 
the right thing exactly; but the idea of making 
Tom Chamberlain a missionary was too absurd ! 
Of course he could refuse to have anything to 
do with it, for he had property enough to live 
comfortably; but when he reached this point he 
always read the letter again, and once or twice 
finished with very moist eyes. 

About this time the lawyer spoken of called. 
He was a short, florid man of forty-five, with 
reddish hair and whiskers, and keen blue eyes 
that had a look of steel in their depths. 



A LAZY RESOLVE, I? 

For some years, he informed Chamberlain, he 
had been the confidential clerk of Robert Flint, 
and agent of the file-works. He spoke of Mr. Flint 
as a hard worker, an eccentric and benevolent 
gentleman, but rather unpractical. 

Surprised at this latter statement the listener 
said, — 

"My letter spoke of «ome conditions in the 
matter." 

"What letter?" inquired the lawyer. 

"My last letter from my uncle." 

"Ah, yes," was the somewhat astonished reply, 
"the conditions were that you should become a 
common laborer in the factory for a term of two 
years, in order that you might learn the business, 
and at the end of that time you should have 
full control of the property, otherwise it goes to 
some benevolent institutions ; but, " added the 
lawyer, hastily, "you are the only lawful heir, 
and in case you refuse to do as the will de- 
mands, as you justly can, you may release your- 
self ; I have abundant proof that the lamented 
Mr. Flint was not in full possession of his rea- 
son at the time he framed the document. It 
can, therefore, very easily be broken." 

Mr. Lamson, after these long and telling sen- 
tences, wiped his moist brow with a fine hand- 
kerchief and looked slyly at his auditor. 



I^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



"What is the condition of the factory people?" 

"O, about the same as in other places like 
Steelville. They are a happy, thoughtless, hand- 
to-mouth people, with a fervent wish to be let 
alone," was the careless reply. 

" My uncle wished me to get an insight into 
the whole business, did he ? " was the next 
question. 

"That is what he put in the will. The con- 
ditions were that you should come to Steelville, 
where of course no one would know you, and 
that you should begin in the * grinding room,' 
learn what there was to be done there, then go 
to another room, and so on. At the end of the 
two years, if you have followed out his instruc- 
tions, you will be declared his nephew and re- 
ceive the property. Until then you are to re- 
main incognito^ 

"Not much pleasure in such an outlook?" said 
Chamberlain, interrogatively. 

"I should say not, sir. It would be a dog's 
life. Only the strongest constitutions can stand 
it. If I were you I should think twice before 
I decided to do it," was the quick reply. 

"You are right," said the other, with a lazy 
look that delighted the lawyer. "I have thought 
twice ; once when I received my uncle's letter, 
and once when you explained the conditions. 



A LAZY RESOLVE, 1 9 



You may expect me at the factory, as a work- 
man, in one week." 

With a promptness that one would hardly have 
expected. Chamberlain at once began preparations 
for the new life. There was a chance for ad- 
venture in this affair that lent it a tinge of ro- 
mance, yet there are few of the young aristocrats 
of the world that are willing to step down,— -to 
lower their caste, even for the novelty of it, and 
he had many doubts. A return to the letter 
dispelled them when they became too thick, and 
the getting ready went steadily on. 

At length the time for departure came, — the 
good-byes to Doctor Ponsonby and Marshall were 
said, and with only a valise for baggage he 
started for the station. The reasons for taking 
no trunk were two, — he had no clothing suitable 
for work, and wished to purchase such as would 
be fitting when on the ground, and, second, the 
old doctor earnestly advised it. Had the young 
man known that his guardian's purpose in so 
doing was to make it all the easier for his ward 
to return, it is possible that he would not have 
been so complaisant. 

When once aboard the cars and speeding on 
his journey, Chamberlain had time to meditate. 
His imagination, fired by the possibilities of the 
whole affair, painted the strongest pictures of 



20 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

drunken operatives, brutal task-masters, and close, 
filthy work-rooms. Part of this the letter was 
responsible for, and part, as he assured himself, 
reining in his runaway fancy, was something that 
he knew nothing about. Whatever train of 
thought he attempted to follow, ran into a file- 
factory, and he found himself,* much to his vex- 
ation, planning all kinds of ways out of various 
hard places, which his common sense warned him 
would probably never occur. 

After a long ride, as he approached the village 
where the steel-works were situated, he became 
interested in the conversation of two gentlemen 
who occupied the seat directly in front of him. 
They appeared to be small politicians, and were 
unconscious that anything that they said might 
be heard by fellow-passengers, or else were so 
calloused that they did not care. 

"The vote of Steep Street is yours at the 
price named," said the first speaker. 

Chamberlain pricked up his ears. Steep Street 
was the factory settlement of his uncle. 

"But you were to be fair with me. If I run 
it must be because there is money in it. Now 
I am willing to put out one dollar any time if 
it will bring in two. But that I must be toler- 
ably sure of. Let's see your figures." 

Two heads bent over a paper and went through 



A LAZY RESOLVE. 21 

\yith a calculation that covered apparently thou- 
sands of dollars, or of votes, Chamberlain could 
not decide which, and then the document was 
folded up, put away, and the negotiations con- 
tinued. 

" If I pleased I could go in and, by the proper 
use of two-thirds of the money you ask, buy the 
important votes of the village," said the buyer. 

"You couldn't do it. You can*t get the in- 
side track of the man who holds these people. 
He has them right where he wants them. There 
is n*t a move in that village but he knows all 
about it. To outsiders it appears like a slipshod, 
reckless, unthinking mass of humanity. That 's 
what it is, but a master hand is on it. Lam- 
son has his thumb on every soul in the place. 
He knows that as long as they are down he can 
put his heel on them, and that *s why they are 
kept down." 

" I rather doubt that. He is too pious a man 
to deliberately destroy people that way. If I 
am not mistaken I have heard him bitterly de- 
plore the wretchedness in the place. He is tied 
up in some way and cannot do any thing. You 
are wrong in your conclusions, I am sure, and 
i think, as you are so willing to draw the long 
bow on things I know about, that it will be 
wel) hr me to go slowly on this bargain. Lam- 



22 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

son is no friend of mine, but I *m not quite 
blind, and I say that he is just the reverse of 
what you have pictured." 

" Steelville ! Steelville ! " called the brakeman, 
and the gentlemen, followed by Chamberlain, 
got out. The latter was in a ferment. Which 
of the two was right ? One of them must be 
very much mistaken in his estimate of the bland 
lawyer. 

"Carriage, sir?" said a voice, which woke 
Chamberlain from his reveries, and set him won- 
dering what had possessed a "cabby" to ask him, 
a plainly-dressed workman, if he wished a car- 
riage. Something was wrong. What could it be.? 
His hat was not fashionable : he had seen to 
that. His suit was ready-made; his cane, — here 
he stopped, flushed, and laughed. According to 
the custom he unconsciously carried a cane. It 
almost upset his dignity, so amused and provoked 
was he, and the first hedge he came to he broke 
the article in two and threw it away, hoping 
that none of his future acquaintances had noticed 
the folly. 

As was natural he promptly made his wa]^ 
toward the seat of interest, the mill village, in- 
stead of following the stream of passengers up 
the hill to the town proper. Erelong he came 
in sight of the mill turrets, and then passing 



A LAZY RESOLVE, 23 

around a curve, suddenly stood at the foot of a 
hill that was lined with houses of the tenement 
stamp. The dilapidated street-sign, defaced by 
tobacco quids, covered with scrawling names, 
hacked, and whittled, was not needed to inform 
him that this was Steep Street 



24 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



IL 

e/l • Sf i»C[r)qei» • ir) • Y®^9 . 

§TEEP Street was a condensation of wretch- 
edness in every form. From the rotten, 
river-swept sills of the houses at the foot 
of the street, to the ragged chimneys at the 
upper end, there reigned an air of reckless want. 
The buildings were huddled together at all angles, 
in inextricable confusion; the fences that separ- 
ated them having vanished up the wide-throated 
chimneys years before. Window-panes long since 
demolished, were replaced by boards, hats, or 
coarse sacking; door-latches were wanting, hinges 
were broken, door-steps sunken and displaced. 
Tlie yards about the houses were trodden hard and 
smooth as concrete walks, by scores of bare feet. 
The only signs of thrift in the settlement were 
the pig-pens that, like unwholesome fungi, clung 
to the sides of the houses, and mingled their 
stench with the uncovered sink-drains that slid 
sluggishly toward the river. 



A STRANGER IN TOWN. 2$ 

Throughout the yards, on the steps, on the low 
roofs of the swine-pens, quarreling in the street, 
were swarms of ragged, unwashed children of all 
ages, in every variety of filthy dress and undress. 

Across the river rose the buildings of the file- 
works. Even from a distance one could not fail 
to notice the good repair in which that part of 
the manufacturing settlement was kept. Evidently 
the owner of the village saw that it was for his 
advantage to do his business in an orderly, cleanly 
manner, however he managed the tenements.. 

It was after a close scrutiny of the squalid 
dwellings that a young man stopped in front of 
the house at the head of the street, and asked 
for a drink of water. This house had one advan- 
tage over the rest : it was on higher ground and 
had no sink drain running through its front yard. 
There was good reason for this singularity, — no 
drain being available for the purpose. A tall, 
muscular woman, with sad yet good-humored face, 
answered his knock. 

" May I trouble you for a glass of water ? " 
said the caller. 

" If you '11 step inside I '11 see if we 've got 
any that 's fit ter drink," she replied, with an 
attempt at politeness. 

Chamberlain, for it was he, followed her in, and 
taking a seat in a chair which had no back and 



26 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

« I I - I M 

decidedly rickety legs, waited for the liquid re. 
freshment. 

*' Stranger here ? " asked the woman. 

" Yes ; I 'm going to work in the file-factory," 
was the reply. 

" O, in the office, I s'pose ; clerk it ? " 

" No, ma'am ; in the grinding-room.'* 

His questioner looked at him doubtfully. 

** My name is Bowman," she remarked, as if 
his might mitigate her wonder, 

" Mine is Chamberlain." 

** The boys will be down on such a swell as 
you," she said, after a pause. " Have you quit 
a good job ? " 

"Pretty good." 

"Well, take my advice and go back to it. 
Them slim fingers of yours war n't never made 
to handle pig iron. You aint got the strength." 

"What I'm thinking about especially is a board- 
ing place. I wish to be somewhere near the 
works." 

" Yes," said the woman, taking a ragged-edged 
tumbler that had once been filled with five-cent's 
worth of sham currant jelly. "Yes, you'd want 
a boardin' place, sure. You look kinder stuck 
up, sort of as if you belonged to the big bugs 
in the town above; but if you intend to have 
any peace among the grindin'-room hands, you 'd 



A STRANGER IN TOWN. 27 



best board somewhere on Steep Street. Ef you 
should try to live up among the swells, all the 
boys would be down on you." 

This speech was quite a damper to the list- 
ener's hopes. He had dressed plainly and flat- 
tered himself that he looked quite like a laborer, 
but this sad-appearing woman had known at once 
that he was not used to hard labor. To be sure 
she made a mistake in taking it for granted that 
he was weak because his fingers were not thick 
and brown. He doubted if many of the mill- 
hands could compete with him on the horizontal 
bar, or in leaping, running, or boxing, but, of 
course, he would have to prove this to them by 
deeds rather than words, if they attempted to 
crowd him because of his gentlemanly appear- 
ance. 

The thought that he must live on the factory 
street was repulsive to him. In the week that 
had elapsed since his decision he had revolved 
the matter very carefully, and had determined to 
fulfill the trust imposed upon him the best he 
could. The last words of his lonely, miserly, re- 
pentent uncle had sunk deep into his heart, and 
now as he beheld the abject misery of the opera- 
tives, he felt a new and strange sense of pity 
and responsibility. A desire to do this people 
good was growing in his heart. He realized his 



z8 



HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



')wn unfitness for the work, but he also saw that 
IS things were, he alone could not raise this 
uass of diseased humanity up to health. 

From the outset he was almost morbidly anx- 
ious to get the sympathy of the operatives. When 
'.he woman therefore spoke of the feelings that 
•rcald be engendered if he chose himself a board- 
ing place among the pleasant families in the upper 
town, where there were no mill operatives, he at 
once gave up the idea, and turned his attention 
to the accommodations of Steep Street. As yet 
he had not seen Mr. Lamson, for he had a 
feeling that it would be better for him to make 
all outside arrangements without asking advice. 
For this feeling the astute lawyer himself was 
to blame, — his manner on the occasion of his 
first visit having prejudiced the young man 
against him to a certain degree. 

"Do you know any boarding place about here.?" 
he inquired. 

"There are two reg'lar boardin' houses down 
yonder," answered the woman, pointing in the 
direction in which the drains ran, " but they are 
awful rough places; you would n't* git much sleep 
nights. They drink and carouse almost all night 
long. I was goin' to say that I did n't know 
but we might be able to put ye up. What 
would you be willin' to pay?'* 



A STRANGER IN TOWN. 29 

Chamberlain had a vague thought of twelve 
dollars a week, but deciding not to state the 
price, said, cautiously, — 

" What should ycu charge ? " 

"We should have to put it pretty high,** said 
the other. 

The young man mentally raised it to fifteen^ 
but ventured nothing. 

"Would four dollars and a half be more than 
you could pay.?" she asked finally. 

" O, no ; I will pay that. Can I come to-night ? " 
was the ready response. 

"Yes, I guess so, if you pay a week in ad- 
vance," she replied, a sudden suspicion being 
developed by the extreme willingness of the lat 
ter to pay the price named. 

The money was promptly paid, and the bar- 
gain completed. This done, it occurred to the 
young man that he would like to see his room. 
He learned, to his dismay, that he was expected 
to share his cot with the landlady's son, a youth 
of eighteen. An extra half dollar per week, how- 
ever, secured the tiny bed-room for himself 
alone, and he left to seek Mr. Lamson and 
make known his arrival in Steelville, and his 
plans for carrying out his uncle's wishes. 

It was with a curious feeling that he stood 
in the handsomely-furnirhed outer office, waiting 



30 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

for the agent. From the mighty engines, ham- 
mers, and rollers within the stone buildings, 
came a steady roar that jarred even the floor 
on which he stood. The strong men in blue 
shirts, who occasionally passed him on their way 
in and out of the busy rooms, the clatter of the 
trucks in the packing-room, the piles of files in 
neat packages, gave him a glimpse of a new 
world. He felt like a Columbus setting foot 
upon strange shores, where he might find almost 
any kind of queer and terrible beasts, and ex- 
perience dangers of which heretofore he had no 
idea. Not that he in the least regretted his 
decision; on the contrary, the further he went, 
the more he felt that he was doing right, and 
that he might yet give his uncle's slaves their 
freedom. 

"Ah, Mr. Chamberlain, you are here I see," 
said a bland voice ; and waking from his reverie, 
he saw the agent. 

"Well," said he, when they were seated, 
"you are still determined to carry out your 
tiiicle's ideas?" 

"Certainly." 

" Had you not better let me show you ovei 
the place before you decide? The work is of 
the heaviest kind, and intensely disagreeable." 
Mr. Lamson, please understand me once for 



A STRANGER IN TOWN. $1 

all: I intend to carry out my uncle's wishes. 
I see many young men here in the factory who 
are physically weaker than I am; I know what 
I can stand. I wish my incognito kept a secret. 
If you showed me about the place, would it look 
as if I were a common laborer.? My boarding 
place is decided upon, and all I need is to have 
my work assigned me for to-morrow." 

*'You will at least spend this first night at 
my house.?" 

" Have you ever had any of the grinding 
room help at your house over-night.?" 

"I can't say that I have," was the reply. 

"Then I must refuse, with thanks. I am very 
much in earnest in this, Mr. Lamson; and while 
I appreciate your courtesy, I must beg that from 
this moment I may be to you simply, Tom 
Chamberlain, workman." 

"Your wish shall be respected," said the law- 
yer; but it was with a look of disappoinment 
that he made the promise. 

Chamberlain had said that he was very much 
in earnest, and he spoke truly. At last he was 
fairly roused. The covert opposition that his 
uncle's confidential manager manifested toward 
his becoming acquainted with the details of the 
business, from whatever cause it might spring, 
only served to increase his desire to carry it 



32 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

through. Beyond this, however, was the honest 
wish to help the operatives. He easily saw that 
Lamson had no pity for, and no thought of al- 
leviating, their glaring misery. Indeed, he sus- 
l^ected that he should find in him ^n enemy to 
all enterprises for their welfare. With new res- 
olution at the thought of this possible opposition, 
he determined to work alone if need be, and 
effectually destroy this monument of his uncle's 
sin, and build in its stead a beautiful little town- 
ship of tenements that should be filled with 
sober, industrious. God-fearing people. 

But why God-fearing.? questioned his heart. 
Because, he answered himself, they would n't be 
sober, and industrious, and respectable, unless 
they were God-fearing. This thought came into 
his mind and took up its abode there, and was 
a most powerful every-day sermon to the young 
man. 

Meanwhile, Lamson stood looking at him, as 
if to fathom the thoughts that were passing in 
his mind. With returning suavity, he said, — 

"As you suggest, it will be better for you to 
enter the mill as all the beginners do, being 
registered and assigned a place, and a stated 
amount of pay. I see you are thoroughly in 
earnest, and you may count on me for help in 
the furtherance of your plans. Just step this 



A STRANGER IN TOWN. 33 

way, if you please, and give your name to the 
clerk." 

After going through the usual formula, Cham- 
berlain was given a "pay-roll number," and felt 
that he actually was a part of the throbbing 
life of the factory. 

A touch of a bell, and a few words through 
a speaking-tube, summoned a foreman, and placing 
him in his care, with an every-day air that de- 
lighted the novice, Lamson went back to his 
office. 

"Don't stand staring 'round all day," said the 
new boss. " Come along and I '11 set you at 
work. We don't need you. There are plenty in 
my room; but I s'pose we shall have to find 
something for you to do. What's your name?'* 

"Chamberlain." 

"Got any chewin'-tobacco with you?" 

" No." 

"Well, next time I ask you, see that you 
have some. I most generally forget mine during 
work hours, and have to borrow." 

As a green hand, he was set at work upon 
the least important jobs in the room; and he 
began with the task of polishing the brass coup- 
lings of a long row of steam-pipes. Around the 
valve-stems was an encrustation of dirt that noth- 
ing but muscle would remove, and ere long his 



34 HIS OPPORTUmTY, 

arms were aching and his back had a "crick" 
in it. There was, however, no give up in Cham- 
berlain's nature, so he toiled and sweat till the 
brass looked like molten gold, and even the 
crusty foreman admired. He had a suspicion, — 
which, by the way, hit the nail on the head, — 
that this job was a "tester," and that there was 
little time spent, as a usual thing, in the polish- 
ing of couplings in that room. He therefore 
resolved to give his boss an elevated idea of 
his capabilities, and did his very best. The noon 
whistle was a welcome release, and he went to 
his dinner with an appetite as good as any 
laborer in the place. On his return, he found 
che men grouped in different parts of the room, 
lounging away the remnant of their nooning. 
His advent did not appear to be noticed till 
one of them came toward him with an aggressive 
swagger and said, roughly, — 

"You're a green hand at this business, aint you.?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, I s'pose you know the custom of the 
place?" 

"With regard to what?" 

"With regard to what? Don't try your kid- 
glove language with me. Why don'i you say, 
'•bout what?'" 

"'Bout what?" said he, impcrturbly; «o per- 



A STRANGER IN TOWN, 35 



fectly copying the other's accents that the list- 
eners smiled, while the questioner scowled. 

"Every green hand is expected to *wet down/ 
—to treat, — and it's your turn; so pony up! 
My name is Gaffney — Thirsty Gaffney, some call 
me. I was born thirsty, and I 've been growing 
dryer every year. Now I intend you shall wet 
me down." 

When first the insulting swagger had been 
indulged in, Chamberlain had flushed angrily, 
and been ready to resent the bully's demand; 
but a new thought overcame his irritation, an 
amused light came into his eyes, and he stood 
facing the man with almost a smile on his face. 
The reason was this : Gaffney stood almost 
under a broad shelf that was used for the "fire 
buckets," which were pails, ten in number, filled 
with water, ready for instant use in case of fire. 
The insurance companies were very strict in that 
section, and the pails were examined and re- 
filled whenever the water got low in them. One 
of Chamberlain's minor chores that morning had 
been to climb up and look them over. Directly 
under the first of the line stood the aggressive 
file-grinder. From where the young man stood, 
an inch steam-pipe ran up from the floor nearly 
to the ceiUng, then took a half turn and fol- 
lowed the wall close behind the line of water- 



3^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

pails. The pipe was cold, and the young man held 
to it with one hand in a natural lounging attitude. 

"I'm perfectly willing to wet you down if you 
really wish it," he said. 

"Cert'nly I wish it; and the sooner you do 
it, the better it will be fer you," was the sav- 
age reply, for the man was sure that the youth 
was quaking with fear. 

In obedience to this threatening request. Cham- 
berlain gave the pipe a sudden vigorous pull. 
As he hoped, it caught pail number one an 
inch below the top and tumbled it down, drench- 
ing Gaffney to the skin, and frightening him 
almost out of his wits. A howl of laughter 
burst from the men; and as the wrathful grinder 
caught up an iron rod and started for the 
"green hand," he suddenly found himself con- 
fronted by a half dozen burly, laughing workmen. 

" Ye brought it on yourself ! Ye asked fer it ' 
Let the lad alone ! " they shouted, and the bully 
slunk away, for once unable to sa)^ he was "dry." 

"That's the best *wettin' down' that ever any 
green hand gave. You'll do, me boy! We are 
proud to have you in our room," said a man 
who had been particularly surly that morning. 

"I'm mighty glad I hired you. This will learn 
them file-grinding hands not to try to pick on 
us sorters," said the foreman. 



SAAf,^ 37 



III. 

"©art)." 

fN the office of the file-works sat Mr. Lam- 
son. On all sides beautiful finishings, the 
oaken paneling, the handsome desk, and the 
stained-glass door, bespoke the thriving business. 
The gentleman, although at the head of the firm, 
and lord of the gem of an oflSce, did not seem 
content. A restless, dissatisfied look that partook 
also -of perplexity, expressed itself in his features ; 
something was wrong. One so schooled in compla- 
cency as the crafty lawyer, would not worry over 
nothing. Touching a bell he summoned a boy. 

"Call Sam," he said. 

In a few moments a tall, broad-shouldered man 
stood blocking the doorway. Six feet three in 
his stockings was Sam Putnam. Among all the 
strong men who worked in "the iron," he was 
the most muscular and the best proportioned. 
In his scant working clothes, which consisted of 
a short-sleeved undershirt, dark blue pants, and 



3^ ms OPPORTUNITY, 



slippers, the bulging muscles swelling on arm and 
chest, he looked the personification of strength. 

" Come in and close the door," said the agent. 

"There is no one near. I dont want to be 
cooped up in that little pen, " returned Sam, 
carelessly. 

The gentleman flushed and frowned, looking as 
if he were about to give some sharp command, 
but instead said, — 

" How does young Chamberlain come on ? /* 

"All right," was the short answer. 

"Does he really learn all he is set at, or is 
he shamming ? " 

" O, he learns thoroughly enough. Works as 
if his life depended upon it." 

" Do the men like him } " 

"They always like any one that minds his own 
business." 

" How do you take to him, Sam ? " was the 
next question, accompanied by a searching glance. 

The giant returned the look with a half con- 
temptuous smile, saying, — 

" I think he is a likely chap. Deacon ; a trifle 
too pious, perhaps." 

" Pious ! You don't know him," exclaimed the 
other. 

" Hump I Perhaps you do," was the reply. 

"Sam," said the agent, impressively, "if this 



• SAAf. " 39 

young Chamberlain learns the whole business, it 
will be the worst thing that ever happened to 
you and me.** 

" What do you mean ? ** 

" I can't explain, but remember this, he is here 
for a purpose, and if he accomplishes it, you and 
I and some of the rest are going to be much 
the worse for it.'* 

"I suppose you would like to make a second 
Tam of him.?" remarked Sam, with a return of 
the old ironical smile. 

A look of hate sprang to Lamson's face. 
"How many times have I told you never to 
mention Tam to me.?** he said, angrily. 

" A good many times," replied the other, with 
a laugh. 

Lara son grew white with rage, but the looks 
that he turned upon the imperturbable figure in 
the door were entirely without effect. 

"Speaking of Tam, is he still about the mill?*' 
said the agent at last. 
"Of course.*' 

"Well, I won't have it,** exclaimed Lamson, 
breaking out afresh. "He is no use here. He 
is a positive damage. I won't have him around 
here any longer." 

" When he goes, I go,'* remarked Sam, with 
a gleam in his deep-set eyes. 



40 ffIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"Sam," said Lamson, suddenly regaining his 
self-poise, "we cannot afford to quarrel. We are 
necessary to each other. Now it would please 
me exceedingly if you would accede to my re- 
quest in this matter, and allow me to remove 
Tarn to a place where he could be cared for, 
and where he would be much happier than he is 
here. Perhaps, too, he might be curea." 

The giant always felt ill at ease when his 
employer addressed him in court phrases. He 
therefore remained silent. 

"You surely won't object?" said Lamson. 

"But I will. You hate the sight of him, and 
no wonder; but you had better not lay a fmger 
on him. Tam is going to stay," said Sam, with 
sudden emphasis. 

Turning on his heel the man strode away, 
muttering angrily to himself. 

The agent closed the door with a slam, and 
began pacing the office floor with a most dis- 
agreeable frown on his brow. He was accus- 
tomed to success when he attempted to manage 
men. He understood Sam perfectly, yet he could 
not twist him as he did many others. The thought 
made him exceedingly wrathful, so much so that 
few of the acquaintances of "cool Lamson" would 
have recognized his changed face, had they hap« 
pened in upon him just then. 



"SAAf.** 41 

Sam had called him " Deacon " with a scorn- 
ful emphasis that brought the blood to his cheek 
and the fire to his eye. 

So the help know it, do they, he thought 
" Deacon Lamson ! " That sounds well, does it 
not? Yet his cheeks burned at the thought of 
the comments of the men. In the town above, 
where were churches, schools, and wealthy fam- 
ilies, it had caused no surprise when he had been 
elected deacon of the largest church. He even 
had felt a deal of self-gratulation, and possibly 
the shadow of the shadow of a thrill of piety 
and resolve for future usefulness. Down in the 
mill village, however, it was entirely different. 
There he was known. To be sure the deceased 
owner of the works was still blamed for the 
misery in the desolate tenements, and for the 
grinding of the operatives. ** Old Skinflint," as 
Robert Flint was generally called, was still hated, 
and his memory often cursed, but little by little 
the keen-eyed sufferers were discerning the fact 
<;hat smooth-spoken Lamson was perhaps a little 
harder, and more merciless, than the owner had 
been. When it was knov/n that he had become 
deacon there was a breeze of comment through- 
out the mill village. 

" I tell yer, my fren's,'* said Gaffney, from 
the steps of " Hole in the Wall," the popular 



42 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

saloon, " he deserves to be a deakin. Ain't he 
got caperbillities in the way of bein' a cheatin', 
lyin', slippery deakin ? Course he has. He 's 
bound for the Kingdom, he is, 'cause he owns a 
pew, an' a hymn-book. A pew is a reserve seat 
for Heaven ; a hymn-book is the check for it. 1 
don't blame him. I 'd be a deakin myself, if I 
had money enough. Here comes Sam Putnam, 
my fren's, an' I invite you all to take a drink 
at his expense, with this sentiment: 'Health to 
the Deakin!'" 

Most of the dwellers on Steep Street agreed 
with Gaffney that Lamson was fitted to be a 
deacon, which to their minds meant a hypocrite. 
They felt that it was a move either to pull wool 
over the eyes of his fellow-men or the Powers 
above; either of which, to their misty minds, was 
deemed equally possible. 

There were to be sure a few faithful hearts, 
cowed by a fruitless struggling against the pre- 
valent unbelief, who secretly cherished the hope 
that the new dignity might be a forerunner of a 
reign of justice, but they were soon disappointed 
Their longings were never expressed in words, 
and no one but the great and pitiful Searcher 
of hearts knew of the faith-germ that ever and 
anon quickened with vague hope. 

One result of the honor which had been be- 



stowed upon Lamson had been that he was there- 
after called **the deacon" from one end of the 
village to the other, and with the same con- 
temptuous intonation that Sam Lad used when 
summoned to the office. Another result was the 
aversion that the majority of the people held 
toward the church was intensified. It was per- 
haps a quiet hatred that they bore toward the 
congregation who had honored their oppressor, 
but it was none the less real. 

As for the people in the town above, they 
were entirely unconscious of the feeling that ex- 
isted among the factory folk. When any kind 
of mission work was undertaken by them, it 
failed, unless bolstered up by picnics, festivals, 
and entertainments ; and when these were re- 
moved, there was found to be not an atom of 
religious interest. There were those in the upper 
town wlio honestly grieved and prayed over this 
state of things, and who used all their wisdom 
to overcome the apathy into which the people 
were plunged, but their efforts were singularly 
unsuccessful. Nor was the reason ever suspected. 
It is but simple justice to say, that if Mr. Lam- 
son's true character had been known, he would 
never have been received into the church. In 
the upper world he was kind, charitable; to all 
Appearance, "full of good works." Many times 



44 HIS OPPORTUmTY. 

he was heard to deplore the state of things on 
Steep Street; and it was generally understood 
that through some clause in the will of Robert 
Flint, who had been an outspoken church-hater, 
there could be nothing done, at least for a terra 
of years. 

The mill people, believing all others knew Lam- 
son as well as they did, but shut their eyes to 
his* true character, because of his wealth, de- 
spised and hated the church, as they did the 
agent, and joined hands in vowing enmity to 
both. 

Among those who learned that the lawyer was 
a deacon, was Chamberlain. He also was fully 
enlightened as to what the people thought of his 
fitness for the position. 

About this time he was absorbed m serious 
thinking. Although not a professing Christian 
himself, he had a high respect for such men 
as his friend Marshall. He knew that there were 
disciples of Christ whose very presence in that 
village would be a protest against the prevalent 
sin, — an overwhelming rebuke to such professing 
Christians as the grasping agent. The thought 
that the whole settlement was so given over to 
the service of Satan, that all actually believed 
that there was no goodness, no real piety, noth- 
ing but hypocrisy among the well-to-do dwellers 



SAM. ** 45 



of the upper town, — was a great burden to the 
young man. It seemed as if every knee had 
bowed to Baal, and he stood alone in his respect 
for the religion of Christ. Of course he was 
wrong in this, for there were a few who, crushed 
under the prevailing wickedness, forced to spend 
all their energies in a bitter struggle with pov- 
erty, yet called upon the name of the Lord. 
Of their existence he knew noihing, and he 
really believed that from one limit of the settle- 
ment to the other, all ages and sexes were in- 
dulging in a frantic rush to destruction. Among 
other plans for the mitigation of this state of 
affairs, he seriously meditated sending to a mis- 
sionary society for a laborer to come among 
these people. A talk with one of the more in- 
telligent of the "puddlers" dispelled the idea. 

**A missionary!" the man said in amazement. 
"What for? There isn't a soul here will take 
any stock in one. Folks know too well the hum- 
bug of the whole thing. If any one wants to 
convince me that they believe in the Bible, and 
all that, let them do as it says, — let them live 
it." 

"Would not a missionary do that?" 
"Yes, if he was hired to. A man will do 
*most anything for a salary. Now let me tell 
you, young feller, if you have been gulled into 



4^ HIS OPPORTUAVTY. 

thinking there is a shadow of truth in what these 
folks try to force on us, you are deceived. I 
have made this a sort of study, and as far as 
I can see, the ministers are a pretty good set 
of men; they are paid to be. A low-down, 
sloven, drinking parson would n't stand any show 
at all, and they know it. So you don't want 
to look there for your examples ; but you want 
to look at the people that profess to believe as 
the ministers do, and yet don't get no pay for 
it. Look at them, and what do you see?" 

"Some hypocrites, and some good, earnest 
men who would lay down their lives before 
doing a mean or a wicked thing," replied Cham- 
berlain, warmly. 

"Not much," was the bitter reply. "You find 
a set of grasping, hard-fisted, stuck-up fellers, 
who grind the life out of such of us as are 
under them; who cheat and lie about bargains, 
and who pretend to be one thing and are some- 
thing else. I am only telling what I see every 
day. If you can bring a Christian who can run 
a mill like that down yonder, and deal justly 
with his help; who will live himself as his Bible 
teaches; who is charitable and generous, and who 
values human beings a bit above the profit they 
pay hira in their daily work, — I'll believe, and 
not till then." 



•• SAAf. " 47 

.Chamberlain groaned inwardly. The great want 
was apparent: There was need of an earnest- 
follower of the Master, who should live a se 
mon, not preach one. There must be such in 
Steelville; yet they were as far removed from 
this people as though an ocean flowed between. 
The man's argument caused the missionary idea 
to drop out of sight. 

Would it be possible to get Marshall to come 
and live in this community ? He hurried to his 
boarding-place and wrote a long letter to his 
friend, sealed and directed it, and then after a 
long struggle with his own thoughts, destroyed 
it. All of the long Saturday afternoon he 
thought and planned. There must be some way 
out of this. On him rested a heavy responsi- 
bility — a legacy left by his repentant uncle. 
More and more the burden weighed. All day 
long Sunday he wrestled with the problem, and 
could see no way out. When the spirit of the 
Lord is striving with man, no compromise will 
answer; and Chamberlain, although he taxed his 
ingenuity to the utmost, found no solution except 
one, to which he would not for an instant 
listen. Yet this suggestion, no matter how often 
hurried out of his mind, came back and whis- 
pered its tender invitation over and over again. 

At the time that he was so sorely tempted to 



4^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

put all responsibility upon the shoulders of others, 
a fellow-workman, — a file-grinder, — also tempted, 
was, by the guiding of God's Spirit, being led 
toward the light. 

Twenty miles from Steelville was a city of 
some size, where those of the file-workers who 
could afford it, went on occasional sprees. Once 
or twice a year select parties took the Saturday 
night train and spent a riotous Sabbath in the 
slums of the city, returning on the "Sunday 
night freight." From one of those parties that 
had already wasted one-half of the beautiful 
summer's day in carousing, two men detached 
themselves, and straying into the city park, sat 
down to talk. The younger of the twain was a 
man of forty odd years; healthy, vigorous, yet 
bearing the marks of dissipation. A costly meer- 
schaum between his teeth, he sat and smoked, 
waiting for the other to speak. Ever and anon 
he took the pipe from his lips and looked at it 
with that admiration that inveterate smokers are 
wont to bestow upon their idols. To him this 
pipe, a present from his companion, meant com- 
fort and ease. It was the only valuable he 
owned. With a longing for the good things of 
life, which his friend possessed, he looked at 
the pipe and rubbed it as if it were an Aladdin's 
lamp, and would fulfil his wish. 



•"SAM."* 49 



The man by his side was in every way more 
diminutive and much older — if the bleached ap- 
pearance which pervaded his whole person could 
be truly taken as an index of increasing years. 
The two began to speak on indifferent topics, 
in which neither appeared deeply interested, yet 
to which both clung, as if feeling that the power 
of conversation would forever leave them if not 
encouraged by some sort of votive offering. 
From factory topics they drifted to horse-racing; 
from that to the latest variety at the lowest 
theatres ; from that to the Sabbath excursions, 
and from this topic, which approached the near- 
est to the religious of anything, they swung 
around upon one which seemed at once to 
awaken their interest. 

"I tell yer," said the lesser man, with an at- 
tempt at energy in his attenuated voice, "there 
is lots of money in it. No other business makes 
such profits. Why, there 's Mulhern, that 's in 
the city council here, and was once a sweeper 
for Lamson! I remember when he bought his 
first barrel of beer and started selling, and now 
look at him: He's just rolling in money, and 
has got the finest saloon in the city! Then 
there 's Bill Guesclin ; look at the position he 
occupies! He stands a fair chance for being 
mayor one of these days, and ten years ago 



50 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



he kept the meanest little rum-hole in the vil- 
lage, next to yours. I tell yer, Temple, if only 
a man drink light, and sell fair, he 's sure of 
fortune. I 've got the cash and the experience, 
and you understand the grocery-business ; there 
is your hold. You can run Pfaff under ground 
in a month. I '11 back you in good shape, and 
no one will know it either." 

"The fact is, I don't want to sell rum," said 
the man, a flush rising to his face. 

"O, pshaw!" replied the other; "you make me 
tired. A feller that '11 drink rum the way you 
have, and that '11 go the rounds and be into 
everything from a gin-mill to a prize-fight, and 
that 's slept under the bar many a night when 
he was too drunk to get home, — to be afraid 
to sell rum, is more than I can understand." 

His companion winced perceptibly, but made 
no reply. 

"Now, look here," continued the smaller man; 
"IVe got the papers right here in my pocket, 
and if you want to know it, they 're all signed, 
too, so sure was I of getting your consent. All 
that is needed is to settle on the profits, and we 
will set you up in less than a week. No more 
file-grinding for you. I will guarantee two years 
from to-day you '11 have as much money as any 
of them, and be able to own just as fine horses. 



« SAM, " 5 1 



and have things as good, as Lamson has. Why 
should n't you have a profit out of this as well 
as he?" 

"I tell you, I don't want to sell rum," said 
the man, but less positively than before. 

"Well, what are you going to do? Grind files 
till you get so bad a drunkard that they '11 fire 
you out, and then go to cleaning out spittoons, 
and washing bar-room floors, and hanging 'round 
for the slops that are left in the bottoms of the 
beer-glasses? You're proud, I know, but you ain't 
no prouder than lots of fellers that have come 
to just that same thing." 

"Where are the papers?" said Temple, brokenly. 

With a thin, white smile, the man drew them 
from his pocket and handed them over. His 
fingers trembling, and his eyes blurred by sudden 
moisture, the other took the documents, and 
slowly openmg them began to read, his com- 
panion watching his every move with a keen- 
ness that none would ever have guessed him to 
be able to command. 

During the conversation, two men, in citizens' 
dress, and of quiet appearance, had come down 
one of the broad paths of the park and now 
stood quite near. One of them mounted a mound 
of earth, opened a hymn-book, and began in a 
dear, pleasant voice to sing. 



5^ ffIS OFPORTUNITY, 

At first, when the words of the song rang 
out on the still air, Temple moved his head 
impatiently, and crumpled the paper with a ner- 
vous grasp, as if protesting against this interrup- 
tion to his thoughts ; but as the song proceeded, 
the frown gradually faded from his heavy brow, 
and the document appeared forgotten, as he 
listened with increasing pleasure. Not to his 
ears alone had the song come, for from all parts 
of the pleasure-ground, rising from recumbent 
positions in the shade, leaving the rustic seats, 
breaking from gossiping knots of smokers, young 
men and boys, and some whose heads were gray, 
were converging toward the spot. 

"Why don't you read?" 

There was no answer. 

" Say, is it a bargain ? " continued the other, after 
a lengthy pause, and holding out a shrunken hand. 

But Temple rose suddenly, brushed him aside, 
and lounged up to a better position for hearing. 
His companion followed, and ere long they were 
wedged into a dense crowd that had collected 
in front of the turfy rostrum. The reading of 
the Scriptures followed the singing, and then 
came brief remarks; and by the time the ser- 
vice was a half-hour old, there had gathered two 
thousand people. As Temple glanced around over 
the faces, — many of them seared and scarred with 



"SAM." 53 



sin; many old and wrinkled; a few fresh and 
young, — thoughts came to him to which he had 
long been a stranger, and of which his compan- 
ion never dreamed. Seeing the gravity that had 
settled over his chum's face, his friend thought 
to relieve it by chaffing the preacher, so in his 
husky voice he called out, — 

" Oh, give us a rest ! '* looking about for 
approval, and was much surprised to see on 
Temple's face a look of contempt, such as he 
had never before encountered. A few loafers 
who laughed weakly at his outburst, and who 
gathered closer to .>enjoy whatever fun he might 
be able to produce, afforded ^him little consola- 
tion. The experiment was not repeated, and the 
services went on. 

Nearly an hour had passed when the little man, 
who was thoroughly weary of the whole proceed- 
ing, suddenly made a momentous and alarming 
discovery. Looking down upon the ground he 
saw protruding from beneath Temple's substartial 
boot-heel, the stem of his costly meerschauni. 

"Jack," he said, in a horrified tone, "you are 
smashing your pipe." 

There was no reply. 

"Say, Jack," tugging at his sleeve, "you Ve 
got your foot on your pipe, man, and yo'o 11 
smash it all .to flinders 1 " 



54 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

With a sudden, strange glance, Tempi** turned 
and looked into the face of the man whom for 
two riotous years he had called "friend." Then 
grinding the pipe more deeply into the gravelly 
earth, and setting his lips firmly together, he 
bestowed his whole attention upon the chapter 
then being read from the Bible. 

Aghast, subdued, utterly overcome, by this most 
eccentric behavior, the other stood, not knowing 
what to do, and wishing most heartily that some 
policeman would make away with the disturbers of 
his peace. But none did so, and the agony went on. 
Finally, the last song was sung, the last word 
spoken, and the two preachers, descending from 
their improvised pulpit, departed as quietly as 
they had come, and the congregation as quietly 
resumed their favorite and usual lounging-places. 

" Pretty long-winded fellers, are n't they } " sug- 
gested the liquor-dealer, as they walked away 
toward the depot. 

This remark received neither rebuke nor appro- 
bation, and another was ventured upon. 

" Say, Jack, I s'pose you 've 'bout made up your 
mind to come into that, have n't you } Of course 
it ought to be settled this afternoon." 

Temple turned and again looked at his com* 
panion with the same gaze he had bestowed upon 
him during the service, and then he said, slowly, — 



SAM." 55 



" Ed. Crabtree, you Ve known me for two years, 
— known me pretty well, — can you tell any good 
of me ? " 

"Why, yes," was the startled reply. 

"Well, don't you do it, because lying is some- 
thing I everlastingly abominate," said Temple, 
with decision. "But, look here, that proposition 
is for me to join you in setting up that bar- 
room ? " 

"Yes." 

" And I was going to do it > " 

" Yes," with an eager intonation. 

" I had almost shaken hands on it, when that 
fellow began to sing ? " 

" Yes ; it was about the same as settled," said 
the other, with a satisfied accent. 

" Well, now let me tell you, since I Ve heard 
that reading, and that speaking, and that sing- 
ing, I Ve changed my mind. Sooner than be a 
Steep-street rumseller, I *d live as the rats do, on 
the best picking in the garbage-barrels. Sooner 
than make other men what I have been and you 
are, I 'd travel the streets from morning till night 
as a broom-pedler." 

" Why, them fellers did n't talk temperance." 

" I know that," was the energetic reply, " but 
what they did talk made me remember who I 
was, and what my father was. Those songs they 



5 6 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

sung brought back the old Connecticut homestead 
that I, since father's death, have poured down 
my throat and the throats of other fools. The 
chapters that were read, brought back to me my 
godly father, the deacon, whom everybody loved 
and respected, and who would no more do a 
wrong thing than he would lose his own right 
arm. And, I tell you, when I remembered all those 
things, I made up my mind that if it was sell- 
ing rum or starvation, I 'd starve ; so that 's your 
answer, and here 's your papers, and now get ; 
I don't want to see you again to-day ! " 

There was a ring in the voice that admitted 
of no argument, and the liquor-dealer, accepting 
the fact, left, while Temple, his face flushed with 
excitement, waited impatiently for the night 
freight. 



IN THE SADDLE. $7 



IV. 

li) • f r)e • ©ciaale. 

i^HAMBERLAIN had been a workman for 
\§^ several weeks. He now felt assured that 
he could, without injury to his health, stand 
almost any work in the place. Mr. Lamson and 
Doctor Ponsonby had predicted that he could not 
endure the hardships to which he would unavoid- 
ably be subjected, — that he would find the work- 
men coarse, illiterate, and quarrelsome, accustomed 
to severe labor, jealously demanding that all in 
their company share alike ; that he would be 
obliged to work, fight, swear, and drink with the 
worst, to make himself even tolerable to them. 
These statements he found to be greatly overdrawn. 
The men were profane, were hard drinkers, and 
settled many differences with their fists ; but, as 
a rule, they allowed a noisy man to be noisy, 
a quiet man to be quiet. Strangers of a peace- 
able turn of mind were not molested. 

Chamberlain had adopted the regulation sleeve- 
less flannel shirt, and dark pantaloons belted 



5^ ' HIS OPPORTUmTY. 



about the waist. His lithe figure looked well in 
this costume, and his white arms, symmetrically 
developed by gymnasium practice, brought many 
rough compliments from the workmen. Unac- 
customed though he was to labor and self-denial, 
he did not find it especially hard to spend ten 
hours a day in the factory. He went into 
the work with a vim that was altogether unusual, 
and provoked amusement among the men. 

In taking his place he had been obliged to 
ans^-er questions as to his past life, but although 
his replies were wordy and amply satisfied the 
questioner, the actual information obtained was 
'sneagre. They learned that he had been at school 
•ap to his entry into the file-works, and that 
information, while it accounted for some of his 
peculiarities, made him of importance in settling 
minor disputes. On the whole, therefore, the 
young man had been well received, and was 
pleased with the prospect of the two years' ad- 
venture to which he had now fully determined 
Zo treat himself. In addition to this was also 
the often-present thought of wretched Steep 
Street. It was his to renovate, and he vowed, 
if it were within the bounds of possibility, to 
make it one of the best-ordered streets in the 
town. In this he was honest, but as yet, little 
knew the task that lay before him. 



IN THE SADDLE. 59 

His work at the end of the third week was 
"grinding files." In the great " grinding-room " 
were, in a long row, ten grind-stones ; not the 
diminutive stone that one sees in the farm-yard 
or carpenter's shop, but monsters weighing tons. 
Above each was built a wooden-saddle, on which 
the grinder sat, as the stone whirled swiftly 
between his knees, smoothing the rough file- 
stock into proper shape for "cutting." The 
work of grinding required considerable skill, 
and, as a rule, only the older hands were 
allowed to do it ; but he had shown such 
aptitude, that as a special favor he was assigned 
a place and allowed to grind with the rest. 

As he bent over his work one afternoon, the 
perspiration standing in beads on his brow, and 
mingling with the splashes of slate-colored mud 
that flew in all directions, he heard near him 
a clear, feminine voice. Glancing down he saw 
Mr. Lam son and a young lady standing close 
by. The agent, with marked politeness, was 
explaining the machines and processes to his com- 
panion. With some curiosity Chamberlain looked 
at the latter. She was strikingly beautiful. 
That she was the daughter of wealth and cul- 
ture, her dress and manner at once proclaimed ; 
and that she regarded the men about her as of 
different clay from those whom she knew as 



6o HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

friends and associates seemed probable. Appar- 
ently she thought the young aristocrat to have 
been born to the work, for he received the 
same well-bred look of carelessness that the rest 
did. 

He was a trifle chagrined that his patrician 
bearing even in the wooden-saddle should not 
be recognized; yet, beneath his disappointment, 
he laughed at his own absurd pride. He was 
not wont to worry about the good or ill opin- 
ion of young ladies ; but for some reason that 
he did not seek to explain, it would have greatly 
flattered him to receive notice from this lovely 
visitor. Her lack of discrimination wounded his 
self-pride, even while he recognized his own fool- 
ishness. 

From Lamson's attentions, it was plain that 
the lawyer was very eager for her good opin- 
ion ; but whether or not she was pleased with 
him was not apparent. 

The men in all parts of the room looked at 
the visitor admiringly. She seemed insensible 
to the compliment which their eyes were pay- 
ing, and observed them with the same quiet air 
that she bestowed upon the queer saddle-covered 
stones. Hitherto, Chamberlain had believed that 
he should never feel ashamed of any honest 
calling, but now for the moment he felt awk 



IN THE SADDLE. 6l 

ward and out of place. With strong mental 
protest at his own foolishness, he bent to his 
work, grasping the file with so much force that 
when it came in contact with the whirling 
stone, a large spatter of mud flew from it, 
striking the young lady full in the face. Cham- 
berlain was aghast. 

In response to her startled exclamation, the 
agent turned >yrathfully toward the stone, but 
seeing who was the aggressor said nothing. In- 
stead he proffered his handkerchief, and the stain 
was quickly wiped away. From the wave of 
crimson that flooded the young lady's cheeks, it 
was evident that she was vexed. Mr. Lamsoa 
apologized as well as he could for his awkward 
workman, saying that he was a new hand and 
careless, and that he should be reprimanded. 

Had Chamberlain been himself and in his 
own clothes, he would at once have apologized 
gracefully; but in a workman's garb, his face 
smeared with mud, his hands covered with huge 
leather-mittens, he felt like a boor, and could 
no more frame a fitting excuse than could any 
of the callow apprentices of the place. He 
therefore sat and blushed, smarting under the 
indignant glance that he had received when 
Lamson had said that it was "sheer '^.areless 
ness." 



62 mS OPPORTUNITY. 

A little later the visitor passed from the 
room, all chance for apology was gone, and he 
felt as if he should never have the courage to 
go into society again. The courtesy which he had 
formerly known so well how to bestow, seemed 
to belong to the good clothes he had discarded. 

"Say, Chamberlain," said one of the men, 
halting before his stone, "did you douse that 
Whitney gal a puppus?" 

"Who?" 

"Why, Miriam Whitney, the agent's gal. You 
spattered her, didn't you?" 

" Yes ; but it was an accident ; I ought to 
have apologized." 

"Humph, I'm glad you didn't. She's too stuck- 
up to live. She looked as if she would like to 
have seen you hangin' fur it. Should n't wonder 
if she made the boss fire you," returned the 
other. 

"Oh, I guess not," was the reply, and the 
other moved off. 

"Miriam Whitney," thought he; " "a pretty 
name. So she is the agent's 'gal,' is she?" 

"Say, the boss wants you in the office at 
wunst," said the sweeper, appearing at that 
moment. 

"I told you so. The deakin never gives a man 
his black look twice." 



IN THE SADDLE. 63 



With much wonderment, Chamberlain walked 
directly to the office, and stood before the glass- 
paneled door of Lamson's sanctum. Within were 
two ladies ; one the fair girl whom he had spat- 
tered, and an older lady. The agent's face dark- 
ened when he saw him. 

"What do you wish?" he said harshly, open- 
ing the door. 

"You sent for me," replied Chamberlain, a 
trifle disconcerted. 

" You are mistaken ; I did nothing of the kind. 
If I had, there is no excuse for your appearing 
here covered with mud and filth." 

"The message said *at once.'" 

"That will do. You were not sent for. Re- 
turn to your work," was the stern reply. 

Chamberlain realized that the little sweeper had 
played a joke on him, and he replied, — 

"The next time your special messenger comes 
for me, I suppose I need n't notice it } " 

"Chamberlain," replied the agent, "remember 
you are only a common laborer here. Go back 
to your work, or I shall summon the day watch 
man to remove you." 

This was said in a low, intense tone; and the 
other, realizing at once the power that this man 
had, and the consequences that would surely fol- 
low open rebellion, swallowed his wrath and 



64 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



walked back to his work. Poor fellow, he was 
more excited than he knew, for when he mounted 
his stone again, his hand trem.bled so that he 
could with difficulty work. What could be Lam- 
son's thought in so insulting him } Up to this time 
there had been only kindness and sympathy. 
Was it anger on account of the awkwardness 
that caused that trifling accident? or did the 
shrewd lawyer intend to humiliate him till he 
rebelled and left } The ferment in his mind was 
not in the least allayed when the foreman c/f 
the room came along and shouted savagely, with 
a string of oaths that made him shudder: — 

"What kind of work are you doing up there, 
you college idiot? Look at the face of this file! 
Don't let me see any more of that, or you '11 
get down and go to sweeping again. Now 
mind!" 

Chamberlain made no reply. He recognized the 
work as some of his, done since the accident, 
and saw that it was faulty. There came to him 
the thouglit, that the foreman spoke to few of 
the others as roughly; and certainly, if he were 
a judge, their work was fully as often badly fin- 
ished. Was not this part of a train of humilia- 
tions purposely laid to explode the magazine of 
his temper? With a firmer purpose and a cooler 
head, the young man set himself harder than 



IN THE SADDLE. 65 

ever at work to turn out the best file-stock in 
the room. There never had been any complaint 
as to the quantity accomplished, — now for the 
quality. One thing rejoiced him so much that 
it took away nearly all of the sting of the re- 
buke, and that was, that under this sort of train- 
ing he could not help but be the best workman 
in the room. When they had been easy with 
him, and smoothed his path, and granted him 
half-holidays unasked, it was much harder to be 
faithful and conscientious in his labor; but now 
with every faculty on the alert, with jealous eyes 
on him, eager for opportunities to reprimand, he 
progressed finely, and above all, with grim de- 
termination, kept his temper. 

"You had better leave,^' suggested one of tne 
more friendly of the men. "Swinert will never 
give you any peace. He hates you for some 
reason or other, and when he gets down on a 
man, it 's all day with him. Give in your notice ; 
you can get a job somewhere else." 

" I guess I '11 stay a while longer." 

"Well, you are a fool if you do. No other 
man but Gaffney would stand what you have. 
Next thing the boss will do will be to strike 
you." 

"Swinert strike me? Oh, no! I guess not," 
was the confident reply. 



66 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

"Why wouldn't I strike you/* said a new 
voice, and the foreman stood in front of him. 

"If you will listen, I will tell you," said Cham- 
berlain, assuming a confidential air. "In the first 
place, you are too noisy a man to be dangerous, 
A man who exercises the muscles of his jaws 
so constantly as you, never does much telling 
work with his hands." 

"Look here, you '* 

"L'ave the lad explain; you invited it," said 
one of the men. 

"Yes, let him go on, it 's the noon hour; you ain't 
boss now," said others, and Chamberlain continued. 

"In the second place, you are all broken up 
through rum and tobacco. Physically, you are a 
wreck. No doubt you were once a strong man, 
but you are now a very weak one." 

The man made a movement forward as if to 
carry out his threat, but the bystanders restrained 
him, and the lecture went on. 

"In the third place, you lack one essential, 
which I doubt if you ever possessed, and that 
is, real grit. No plucky man will hit a boy as 
you struck the sweeper yesterday. No brave man 
will curse a woman as you cursed your own 
sister at the mill door last week; and lastly, no 
one but a ruffianly coward will be bought to 
drive another man out of the mill." 



JN THK SADDLE. 67 

At the last shot, the man turned white, and 
as the whistle blew, hurried into the factory. 
The men dispersed, discussing the matter and 
casting ugly looks at the door through which he 
had disappeared. 

In the middle of the afternoon, ostensibly to 
examine his work, Swinert drew near and said, 
anxiously, — 

"For Heaven's sake, Chamberlain, don't spread 
that report; the men will mob me! I have a 
wife and five children to support. Don't ruin 
me." 

"It depends on yourself. Do what is right, 
and I will see to the men; and remember — I 
am here to stay." 



68 mS OPPORTUNITY. 



V. 

"frje.of.eis." 

i^ TJJOLE in the Wall," the popular groggery 
^Bl of Steep Street, was the evening resort 
of most of the able-bodied men of the 
settlement. The proprietor, a short, stout man 
of German-Irish parentage, named Pfaff, was said 
to be wealthy. In addition to his stock of liquors 
he kept a small grocery, which, occupying the 
room directly in front of the groggery, gave am- 
ple opportunity for sly drinks. His customers 
embraced most of the adults of the village, and 
indeed some of the children might be so called, 
as they invariably tasted the beer which they 
carried home by the pitcherful. Pfaff was thought 
a very jolly fellow, — a trifle obstinate in his 
opinions, but generally as fond of friendly con- 
verse as he was of American dimes. He was 
ever ready to drink with his guests, at their ex- 
pense, and on rare occasions "stood treat" him- 
self 



"^ONE OF US* 69 



Not only in the mill village, but in the town 
above, Pfaff was noted for the excellence of his 
drinks. For this reason numbers of the liquor- 
loving from the upper settlement frequently 
dropped in to taste "Jacob's Best," and the fact 
was enlarged upon by the liquor-dealer with loud- 
voiced pride to the evening loungers. 

The laborer, in a factory where the water is 
poor, is like the desert traveler, often morbidly 
thirsty. The wells in the file-works furnished 
water that was brackish and hardly fit to drink. 
The homes on Steep Street were not better off. 
The people used the water for washing, but no 
more than was absolutely necessary. In drink- 
ing it was frequently neutralized by a portion 
from the family bottle, in the proportion of one 
part of water to three parts of liquor, and some- 
times the hurtful water was entirely left out. 
It had naturally come to pass that a special pre- 
judice existed against it in the minds of the vil- 
lagers. If any one was sick, it was laid to the 
water. Every ill seemed to have its origin in 
the unwholesome furnishings of the wells. Had 
it been within the bounds of reason, there is 
cause to believe that most cases of delirium 
tremens would have been traced directly to "bad 
water." This being the case, it was not strange 
that Jacob Pfaff grew rich and bloated; that men, 



TO HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

women, and children drank his beer and other 
liquors ; that the traces of excessive drinking 
were on masculine countenances, otherwise intel- 
ligent and manly; on feminine faces, that, free 
from it, would have been womanly and attrac- 
tive. 

rfaff had no sign over his door, but he had 
many a sign through the hamlet. What were 
the old hats stuffed in broken windows, the filthy 
door-yards, the noisome fumes, the bloated fathers 
and mothers, the rickety children, the rags, vice, 
and squalor, but Jacob Pfaff's signs } The people 
did not read them thus, however. Their thought 
was " the water is bad ; we must drink some- 
thing. " 

It happened one evening, as Chamberlain was 
returning from work, he was overtaken by one 
of the grinding-room hands with whom he had 
often spoken. Pleasanter and better informed 
than most of the men, he had taken pains to 
give timely and valuable hints about the work. 
These he appreciated and remembered, as John 
Temple joined him, and the thought gave an 
unusual cordiality to his greeting. As they came 
in sight of "Hole in the Wall" the new-comer 
began to speak of the excellent beverages sold 
there. Perhaps the German name had something 
to do with it; but the speaker asserted that 



''ONE OF US.** 71 



no saloon he had ever patronized furnished such 
thirst-quenching liquor. Jacob, he said, had just 
renovated his bar, and now the place was clean 
and wholesome, wouldn't Mr. Chamberlain come 
in and try a glass } 

Our friend, as we know, was not a teetotaller; 
he believed that it was right for any one to 
take wines or beer when they wished, provided 
they did not overdo the matter. Indeed this 
had been impressed upon him by his guardian 
when he was quite young. Only a few times 
in his life had he tasted liquor over a bar, 
and then in the company of those who were 
considered high-toned gentlemen. The invitation 
that he now received was, for the moment, a 
puzzle to him. He had no sympathy with those 
who guzzled liquor as did the people who pat- 
ronized Pfaff; yet, here was a file-grinder, a 
gentleman in his way, asking him to drink with 
him. With no religious scruples to bring for 
ward, no excuse to offer, for he instinctively ac 
knowledged that were it in a first-class hotel, 
and his companion a society man, he should say 
yes, he consented, and for the first time, an(? 
with a feeling of shame-facedness that was entire!;' 
new to him, entered the saloon and went up to 
the bar. 

The proprietor saw the new face and be- 



7^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

stirred himself. A fresh customer always roused 
him to an awkward politeness, — a courtesy fla- 
vored with cupidity. 

While Chamberlain waited for his glass, a 
hand was laid on his shoulder, and a rough voice 
said, — 

"Well, if here ain't Chamberlain, our youngest; 
the chap that the boys said was pious! They 
did n't know ye, did they, lad ? " 

It was Gaffney, who apparently had forgotten 
the "wetting-down," and was now as dry as 
ever. 

"I told 'em," continued the man, keeping his 
hand on the young man's shoulder, to steady 
himself, "I told 'em to hold on and wait till 
ye showed yer hand ; I felt from the first that 
you was one of us." 

Chamberlain set down his glass untasted. 

"Drink your beer, don't mind Gaffney," said 
his friend. 

" Yes, drink it, it is good ; never mind Gaff- 
ney," echoed the dealer. 

"Thank you, I don't think I wish for any 
now," was the reply; a strange gravity settling 
over the young face. 

" Perhaps there is something wrong with it ; 
shall I draw another ? " asked the proprietor a 
trifle anxiously. 



""ONE OF US."* 73 



**No, I thank you," was the positive reply, 
and Chamberlain moved toward the door. 

"Fernald," close the door for a minute," said 
rfaff. 

The door was instantly shut, a couple of men 
stood against it, and the youth was a prisoner. 
With a flash in his eyes he turned toward the 
rumseller. 

The latter had come out from behind the 
bar, and now stood expanding his chest and 
looking fierce, in front of his fastidious customer. 

" I intend to know why you came in here 
and called for my beer, and then refused to 
drink it ? " he inquired aggressively. 

"I think he saw a fly in it and it sickened 
him," interposed Temple, anxious ^to avoid 
trouble. 

*as that so.?" asked Pfaff. 

" No," answered Chamberlain. 

"Well, what was it?" 

"Tell what it was then," echoed the loungers. 

"I had always supposed that a man had a 
right to enter any sort of store and examine 
the goods, and that he could purchase or not 
as he wished," was the reply. 

"Well, he can't do it here," replied the 
other. "I don't care for the price of the beer, 
but I don't intend that any man shall stick up 



74 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

his nose at it; you just drink that glass, or 
give me a good reason for not doing it, or I '11 
wipe up the floor with you.'* 

Chamberlain was young and fiery ; a threat 
was to him like a whip to an untamed horse; 
his pride was roused ; he despised bar-room 
rows, but he could not allow a bully to insult 
him thus. His friend whispered, " take your 
beer, don't be a fool." The loungers drew 
nearer to see the young upstart punished for 
his insolence. 

At this stage of affairs, a door back of the 
bar opened and Sam Putman came in. 

" Holloa ! what's this ? " he inquired, his eyes 
lighting up with interest. 

"Why," said Jacob, "this young fellow says 
my beer ain't fit for swill, and he's got me to 
draw it, and now is goin' off without drinkin' 
it" 

" Did he pay for it ?'* asked Sam, throwing 
one leg over the bar. 

"Yes." 

"Well, it's his then, ain't it?" 

"Yes; but " 

"Then I don't see as it*s any of your busi- 
ness what he does with it," was the cool reply. 

"But I intend to make it some of my busi- 
ness," replied Pfaff, excitedly. "I don't allow 



*ONE OF C/S." 75 



no man to throw mud on me and then rub 
it in this sort of way." 

" If you touch that young fellow," said Sam, 
measuring his words slowly, " I '11 throw you out 
of the window into the river.'* 

•*Well, let him get his beer off my counter, 
and out of my glass," sputtered the other; 
but Gaffney had attended to that, having quietly 
finished the troublesome liquor. 

As Chamberlain continued his walk with his 
friend, the latter began to question him as to 
the cause of his sudden aversion to the glass 
of liquor. At first the young man's replies 
were unsatisfactory ; he gave no reason for his 
strange conduct, but on being pressed he said, — 

"Did you hear Gaffney speak to me?" 

" Yes." 

"Well, he said when he saw me with a glass 
of liquor in my hand, *now I know you are one of 
us ' ; that is what the trouble was. * One 
of us ' ; what did that mean ? It did n't mean 
that I was one of the workmen who could 
hold his own at 'the forge, or on a grind-stone 
or over the furnace. It meant that I was one 
of the drinkers ; one of the men who go on 
a spree every Saturday night, who can't live 
from one week's end to the other without 
drink; who are a curse to themselves and 



76 If IS OPPORTUNITY, 

their families. That was what it meant ; I saw 
it all in a flash, and I could no more sign 
such a compact, by drinking that glass, than I 
could commit murder." 

" You are excited,'* said his companion in a 
queer muffled tone. 

" Perhaps- so ; but if I am, I am sure of this, 
that I will never taste another drop of liquor 
in my life. I sec clearly now ; there are but 
two sides : those who drink and those who do 
not ; the drunken and the sober." 

** You are right," replied the other in a low 
voice, ** keep your resolve. You have no appe- 
tite to fight ; never allow it to waken." 

" I am not so sure about not having any 
appetite ; I have always been accustomed to 
wines, and at times stronger liquors, and I 
doubt not I shall have a fight of it, but I have 
tasted my last drop." . 

"Would to God, I could say as much," ac- 
knowleged Temple, with a groan, and at once 
Chamberlain, who had been engrossed with his 
own resolve, awoke to the struggles of another. 

"Come up to my room," he said, drawing the 
other's arm through his. Reaching the tiny 
apartment, he threw open the blinds so that 
the evening breeze came in and cooled their 
heated brows. 



*ONE OF C/S." 77 



" Were you in earnest in what you said ? " he 
asked. 

" Yes, but it is of no use. I am made 
of weaker stuff than most men. Over and over 
again have I resolved to stop drinking, but 
I can't do it," was the reply. 

** Why don't you sign the pledge ? " asked the 
young man. 

"I have several times.** 

"Do it again; make up your mind and stick 
to it." 

"No use,** was fhe reply. 

To the best of his ability, his friend cheered 
him up; trying hard to give him more faith 
in his own power of resistance. Finally Temple 
said, — 

"There is but one thing that can save me, 
the religion of Christ. I was well taught when 
I was young; I know the way, but strange 
though it may seem to you, I am not willing 
to give up to it." 

What could Chamberlain say.^ Could he advise 
others to flee from the wrath to come while 
he stood still and braved it ? Surely not. Yet 
his heart was stirred by this man's trouble ; he 
longed to help him. It was like watching a 
man drown without stretching out a hand to 
save him. 



73 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

When his visitor had departed, Chamberlain 
did not go down to supper. Instead, he sat 
alone and communed long with himself. 

Finally, as the town-clock struck eleven, he 
arose, went down stairs, and out into the night. 
A short walk brought him to the lodgings of 
his friend. He found that he had not yet retired. 
His message, whatever it was, brought the tears 
to the other's eyes, and soon two earnest souls 
were kneeling side by side, entreating forgiveness, 
and cleansing at the throne of grace. 

That night Tom Chamberlain and John 
Temple began life anew. The glorious sur- 
render had been made. Two hearts had been 
won; two who had, but a few hours before, 
been identified with the sin and misery of Steep 
Street, of whom the drunkards could say, "you 
are of us," had crossed the line, and were 
rejoicing in the love of a new and all-power- 
ful Master. With great joy in their hearts they 
communed one with the other, knowing that 
they would be "epistles known and read of 
all" in the factory and out. The test of true 
and right living would be most rigidly applied 
to them. It must be a whole consecration or 
none at all. Without discussing the question, 
Temple swept the pipes and tobacco from his 
shelf and threw them out of the window. 



**0^E OF US,"* 79 



Not noting the flight of time, the two friends 
sat and planned for the future. The fields were 
white with harvest, and they were the laborers. 
It was a responsibility to which too few young 
men awaken. They felt their own weakness, — 
their own inability to cope with the powers of 
darkness so stoutly entrenched in the valley be- 
low, — yet to them was the promise, "Lo, I am 
with you alway." 

The first gray tinge of morning was showing 
itself in the east when Chamberlain went back 
to his room. As the day broke, he sat at the 
open window — very happy, very peaceful. He 
felt that the knowledge of his sin, the burden 
that he had carried about ever since he awakened 
to the condition of Steep Street, was now gone. 
Like a runner freed from a load, he had such 
freedom as only Christ can give. As yet he had 
sent no word to his friend in the far-away city 
home. Perhaps it had been in part because there 
was nothing to tell but what he was bound not 
to divulge. Now, however, he had news that he 
knew would make Marshall happier than any 
other message that he could send, so he sat 
down and wrote, in a few simple sentences, of 
his decision, of his great joy, and of the friend 
who had at the same time been born into the 
Kingdom with him. In conclusion he earnestly 



So HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

asked him to remember them both in his prayers, 
as they sorely needed wisdom. This was enclosed 
in a letter to Doctor Ponsonby, and mailed at 
once. 

" Good land ! Have you had a fortune fall to 
you } ** asked Mrs. Bowman, as he came into the 
kitchen with a very happy look. 

" I guess so ; a fortune that you can have 
too, if you wish," was the reply. 

"Well, if there is anything good that's free, 
I *d like to know it, for I 'm right there," said 
the landlady energetically shaking the fire. 

" Salvation 's free," said the young man. 

"Look here young man, I ain't muck ou i* 
ligion, and I spose you know it, but I don't 
never allow anybody to make fun of it in my 
presence. Joke just as much as you please in 
the right way, and I '11 enjoy it when I have 
time; but don't make fun of things that some 
folks respect." 

"God forbid that I should do anything of 
the kind. I was in earnest, for last night I 
gave my heart to the Lord, and I believe he 
has washed away my sins," replied Chamber- 
lain earnestly. 

"Do you mean to say that you have honestly 
and truly experienced religion } " was the as- 
tounded query. 



''ONE OF US.'' %\ 



"Yes." 

** Well, I never. I hope it will L\st ; it 's 
dreadful to be a back-slider ; that 's v/hat I am. 
You never get no comfort out of life while 
your a back-slider. I ain't been a happy Chris- 
tian for a good many years, not since Rob was 
born ; and I 'm sure I 've suffered enough on 
account of my short -comings. I've got so 
hardened that I durst not pray; but Mr. Cham- 
berlain, won't you pray for Rob?" 

There was a pathos, an entreaty in the voice 
that went to the young convert's heart. Poor, 
erring Rob.!* The only son of the widow Bow- 
man. Easily led, full of good resolutions, abound- 
ing in broken promises; the tool of the smarter 
loungers in the village. 

"We can both pray," said he, and they knelt 
on the kitchen floor and prayed. First, Cham- 
berlain offered a faltering petition for the erring 
son, and the strong muscular woman by his 
side sobbed like a child, and added a few words 
of her own at the close. 

"Be you a Methodist, Mr. Chamberlain?" she 
enquired, wiping her eyes on her apron. 

"Why, I don't know; I had hardly thought." 

"I thought 'cause you kneeled down maybe 
you was a Methodist; you know the Congrega- 
tionalists always stand up when they pray." 



^^ ^IS OPPORTUNITY, 



Not feeling like discussing the different cus- 
toms of denominations just then, Chamberlain 
was silent, and breakfast being ready, they sat 
down to eat, after which the lateness of the hour 
compelled him to hurry away to the mill. 



A FAVOR. 83 



VI. 

§N an elevated plateau overlooking the fac- 
tory street was an old-fashioned mansion, 
surrounded by ample, well-kept grounds. The 
general atmosphere of the place was that of 
respectable old age. A departed generation built 
the house, laid out the grounds, planted the 
trees, sowed the hollyhocks, and no modernism 
had re-arranged their works. Between the estate 
and the straggling line of tenements a high board 
fence, capped with spikes, was erected, as a "thus 
far and no farther" to the juvenile apple-hunters 
of the village below. 

The estate was owned and occupied by a 
maiden lady. Miss Louisa Whittier. Like it, she 
belonged to the past. The last of the Whittiers, 
she held scrupulously to the faded customs of 
the race, as she did to the rusty silks and bom- 
bazines that filled her attic trunks. None of the 
Steep Street people knew her, and few of the 



84 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

dwellers in the upper town were at all intimate, 
although her wealth and blue blood entitled her 
to more than usual consideration. She attended 
the North Church, of which Mr. Lamson was 
deacon. She was not, however, a member of the 
" Ladies* Charitable Society," " The Woman's 
Temperance Club," or "The Home Missionary 
Bureau." She was therefore, to many of the good 
ladies, a comparative stranger. Nevertheless, in 
spite of her negative qualities. Miss Whittier 
gave largely to the charities above named, and 
was regularly at church. 

It was with a knowledge of most of these facts 
that Chamberlain lifted the brass dragon 's-head 
knocker on the front door of the Whittier man- 
sion, and dropped it with a clang that smote 
upon the quiet interior like an alarm of fire. 
There was a bustle within, a glimmer, as if a 
lamp were lighted to banish the fast-gathering 
shadows, a rustle, the door opened, and the lady 
of the house stood before the young man. 

She was tall, with lovely white hair, a plain, 
shrewd face, and gray eyes that had the least 
glint of suspicion in them. 

Raising his hat, he said, — 

"Is this Miss Whittier?" 

"It is." 

"Can I see you for a few moments?" 



A FAVOR. 85 



The lady gave him a quick, keen glance. He 
had used the usual introductory phrase of the 
book agent. 

''Pardon me, but have you anything to sell?" 
she said. 

" No, madam," replied he, quietly, although with 
a flush. 

The lady saw it, and said, — 

" I am sure you will excuse my question when 
I tell you that almost every stranger who calls 
here has something to dispose of. Some of them 
are positively insulting in their pertinacity. It 
is they who have made me suspicious, and per- 
haps inhospitable. Will you walk in, sir.?" 

Chamberlain followed her into a square, stiffly- 
furnished parlor, and accepted a chair, his hostess 
seating herself on a sofa opposite him. At his 
left a door opened into a second parlor in which 
there was no light. By a window at the further 
end he could just discern a white-clad figure. 
From the graceful curves and careless posture, 
he decided that it was a young girl. She seemed 
not aware of his presence. Meanwhile Miss Whit- 
tier was regarding him with a courteous what-is- 
it,-sir? look that required him to speak. 

"I will state the object of my visit as briefly as 
possible," he said, in response to her mute interrog- 
ation. " I am in the employ of the File Company." 



S6 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"Indeed/* said Miss Whittier's eyes, "you had 
better have been a peddler," but her lips remained 
shut. ' 

" Since coming here I have seen the wretch- 
edness of Steep Street till it seems as if I could 
stand it no longer. I believe I know the whole 
story of the misery that hangs like a cloud over 
the settlement, — I know every rum-hole.*' 

"Undoubtedly," said the eyes. 

"And I think I know of a way to alleviate 
these evils. I must, however, ask your assistance 
in carrying out my scheme." 

"I think," was the cold answer, "that I have 
all the charities on hand that I care to encour- 
age ; yet, if you will show that your plan is a 
good one, I will contribute five dollars." 

"You misunderstand me. I ask for no money. 
Let me explain. The mill people, many of them, 
drink beer, cider, ale, and stronger liquors, be- 
cause there is nothing else to drink on the 
street. The wells furnish poison. The people 
dare not drink it. There is, and has been, ab- 
solute suffering on this account. I have been 
here several months, and all I have tasted has 
been rain-water from a hogshead cistern. Now, 
my proposal is to furnish good water for the 
mill people, and wash the taste for poisonous 
liquors out of their mouths." 



A FAVOR. S; 



"I doubt if it can be done. And even if it 
can be, is it not the duty of the File Company 
10 do it?" replied the lady. 

"The Company will do nothing; of that I am 
assured, and unless others do it, this suffering 
must continue,'* was the quick reply. 

*'Can it be done?" 

"I think so," said Chamberlain, earnestly, "for 
this reason : The ridge upon which your place 
is situated extends to the next village, . where 
the formation of land is nearly the same as here. 
In that village is a driven well that flows hun- 
dreds of gallons of pure water daily. Were such 
a well at the head of this street, it would amply 
furnish all the tenements." 

"What is your proposition?" asked Miss Whit- 
tier, trying to hide her interest. 

"I thought," said he, hesitating a little, "that 
if you would sell, for a reasonable price, a spot 
in the lower part of your garden, large enough 
for the well, that I should like to buy it, and 
try the experiment." 

"Young man," interrupted the lady, suddenly, 
"did the File Company commission you to talk 
this up to me?" 

"They did not; nor has any one in the com* 
pany the faintest idea that it it thought of," 
was the prompt reply. 



SS mS OPPORTUNITY. 

"You knew, perhaps, that the tenements were 
built close up to the line of our estate to 
gratify a grudge that the Company held against 
my father?" 

"I did not." 

Miss Whittier mused a few moments. 

"How much would the well cost?" she said, 
finally. 

"The man whom I consulted, offered to do it 
for one thousand dollars, and take the risk," 

"That is considerable money." 

"It is with regard to the money that I wished 
to ask a favor of you." 

There was a movement in the next room, and 
the visitor wondered, uneasily, how much of an 
audience the darkness contained. 

"I wish to put the money in your hands, and 
have you close the bargain and pay the bills," 
continued he. 

"That is a very extraordinary request. Pray 
why do you wish it? Have you yet collected 
the money?" 

"The money to be used was left me by my 
father. I shall collect from no one; and I ask 
you to pay the bills that I may not be sus- 
pected of doing it." 

"Really, I don't understand it. Why do you 
wish to hide the deed?" inquired Miss Whittier. 



A FAVOR. 89 



"I am, as I said, in the employ of the File 
Company, if they know that I do this, the 
consequences will be unpleasant, — that is the 
reason. Now will you grant me the favor, and 
keep my secret?" 

Instead of answering, she called into the next 
room, — 

"Miriam!" 

"Yes, auntie." 

"Will you come here a moment?" 

The occupant of the lounging-chair at the fur- 
ther end of the second parlor, rose and came 
forward into the light. 

"Have you been listening to our conversation, 
my dear ? " 

"Parts of it," was the languid reply. 

"What do you think of it?" 

"I don't see why you should care; you can 
put the money into the hands of your lawyer, 
and let him pay the bills." 

"Perhaps you are right," was the answer. 

During the short conversation. Chamberlain 
had been closely observing the young girl. 
When he heard the name Miriam, it sent his 
blood with a bound to his heart. At once he 
felt that the fair girl whom he had so awk- 
wardly spattered with mud in the grinding- 
room, was about to appear again; nor was he 



90 ms OPPORTUNITY. 

mistaken. She stood in the doorway, looking 
fairer than when he had for the first time 
acknowledged the power of her beauty. She 
bestowed upon him a well-bred glance of in- 
difference, and then turned her attention to her 
aunt, as if he were not present. The same 
anger that had possessed him before, when she 
had rated him as a file-grinder, for an instant 
came over him, and then, with a firm setting 
of his teeth together, he crushed it. 

She glanced again at him, as the determined 
look so plainly stamped itself upon his face. It 
interested her, and following the new impulse, 
she said, — 

"Will you introduce me, auntie?" 

Miss Whittier complied with no little aston- 
ishment, after discovering afresh what the sur- 
name of the young man was. 

The young girl sank into a huge chair, and 
said to him, with a witching glance,— 

"Is it not very dangerous working in the 
file-factory, Mr. Chamberlain?" 

"In some parts it is," he replied. 

"I visited the works recently and saw all the 
departments. Some rooms were dreadful, — full 
of steam and heat, — and others had terrible 
machines in them. It seemed hardly possible 
that men could work there every day for years." 



A FAVOR. 91 



"There are some very powerful men there," 
answered Chamberlain. 

"They all drink, do they not? Mr. Lamson 
said the works brutalized them so that in a few 
years they were little better than beasts." 

"That is entirely untrue. Many of the men 
love their families, are honest, and upright." 

"Yet, Mr. Lamson should know about this," 
she said. 

*'He does know," was the reply, with unmis- 
takable emphasis. 

The expression of mischief that had lighted 
the young lady's eyes when the conversation be- 
gan, was replaced by one of offended dignity. 
Rising, she said to the other lady, — 

"Will you excuse me, auntie?" and swept 
from the room. 

The caller also rose to go; as he did sOp Miss 
Whittier, looking him full in the eyes, said, — 

"Mr. Chamberlain, will you tell me honestly 
your motive in trying to help this wretched peo- 
ple on Steep Street?" 

With a blush, and voice trembling, Tom wit- 
nessed the confession so new to him ; and how 
hard it was, only those who have fought the 
battle and conquered, can ever know. 

"Because, madam, I have started out to serve 
the Lord Jesus Christ. I am but young in the 



92 ffIS OPPORTUNITY. 

service, and perhaps not over-wise ; but it seemed 
that this sin-stricken street needed help, and 
such help as I can I shall give,*' he said. 

The lady held out her hand and gave his a 
warm grasp. 

"I am glad you told me. Your secret shall 
be safe. But do not try to hide your profession. 
Do you attend church here.^" said she. 

He mentioned having attended the North 
Church; and as he left, the lady again shook 
hands and cordially invited him to call, and 
also to sit in her pew whenever he attended 
church. 

In passing out, he saw Miss Whitney in a 
hammock that swung by the path. In the darK- 
ness he could not tell whether or not she ac- 
knowledged his bow. Feeling much as if he 
had again thrown mud at her by his eager 
awkwardness, he walked slowly down to his 
lodgings. 

Full of his project, and anxious to impart to 
his friend the successful termination of his ne- 
gotiations. Chamberlain hurried to Temple's 
boarding-place. The latter listened in silence 
until he had finished, then said, — 

"Don't you think you are putting out your 
money rather freely for a laboring man.^" 

Chamberlaixi colored. It had never occurred 



A FAVOR. 93 



to him that his friend might consider his action 
at all Quixotic. 

"I believe this to be a practical and safe in- 
vestment,'* he replied. 

"I don't know about that. That amount of 
money put into a store would pay you interest 
if nothing else; but this well, which I should 
fear will never furnish much water, seems to me 
a visionary undertaking." 

"I believe it can be successfully made. The 
man who bored that in the village below is sure 
of it." 

"Of course he is; it will be a couple of hun- 
dred dollars in his pocket to have that convic- 
tion. But really, it does not seem to me that 
it is actually necessary. There are wells on the 
street." 

How much these remarks discouraged Cham- 
berlain would be difficult to tell. The thought 
would obtrude itself that he might be wrong, 
and that the Steep Streeters perhaps neglected 
water from choice, rather than from necessity. 
It would be possible even now to gracefully 
retire from the whole undertaking. The co-oper- 
ation of the conservative Miss Whittier had 
been most grateful to him. Yet, he was enough 
of a man to refrain from carrying a project 
through for mere pride's sake. 



94 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

** I will tell you,** said his friend, noting the 
disappointment expressed on his mobile face 
"we will investigate this matter. I may not 
be a judge. I rarely drink water; never did 
even before I acquired a taste for the stronger 
liquors. We know where most of the wells are. 
Let 's test the water by taking a drink from 
each." 

"I need no further conviction as to the bad- 
ness of the water, but am very willing to con- 
vince you. We will do it," agreed the other. 

The succeeding day, as they came home to 
dinner, Forsyth's well, at the foot of the street, 
was visited. A tin pail, weighted by a stone 
attached to a clothes line, was the only means 
of drawing the water. 

"You fellers lost something down there.?" in- 
quired the owner from his seat on the door- 
step. 

"Oh, no; we are going to have a drink," 
answered Temple. 

"A drink! a drink! Has Pfaff failed.? or are 
you going to commit suicide? Here, hold on, 
till I get the bottle and sweeten it for you." 

"No, thank you; we wish to try it and see 
how bad it is." 

" Well, it *s as good as any about, but it 's 
rank poison for all that. I believe, on my word, 



A FAVOR. 95 



that there is more typhoid fever to the glass 
in that water than in any other in the country. 
Help yourselves ; the more you take, the less 
there is left." 

"Smells rather rank, doesn't it?" remarked 
Temple, sniffing at the yellowish-colored liquid. 

" Drink away ; smells go for nothing on Steep 
Street," was the reply. 

Most conscientiously the investigator took a 
few sips and then poured the rest away, remark- 
ing as he did so: — 

"I think this well is poisoned by the drains 
that have soaked the ground full of their filth. 
Let us go further up the street and find a 
k place where there is no such accessory, and I 
believe the water will be pure and sweet." 
"Why is it not good in the works.?" 
"I think it is. Most of the men prefer beer 
or something stronger. Few know how the 
water does taste; I must confess I do not. 
You remember the day yQu were so thirsty, 
when we went into *Hole in the Wall?' even 
that day I did not touch a drop of water." 

A short walk brought them to the head of 

• the street, and abreast the Bowman cottage. 

Passing through the narrow lane that separated 

it from the adjoining tenements, they approached 

one of the rear dwellings. Mrs. Hidden's door 



9^ HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

Standing wide open, emboldened them to 
enter. 

"Can we have a drink of water?" 

''•Indeed you can," was the widow's hearty 
response, pouring out a glassful and handing it 
to him. 

Chamberlain passed it to Temple, who raised 
it to his lips. As he did so, a burning flush 
swept over his face, and seemingly by a violent 
effort, he set it down, saying in an unsteady 
voice, — 

" There is liquor in it, is there not } " 

" To be sure ; it would give you the cramp 
without. That won't hurt ye; the children drink 
it every day." 

" I wants a d'ink," lisped a little one, tod- 
dling up and receiving a liberal portion of the 
doubly poisoned dose. 

**Is James Hidden your son.?" inquired Cham- 
berlain, a thought suddenly coming to him. 

"■ He is that, although it 's ashamed I am to 
own him, the dirty, little drunkard ! What would 
his father — God rest his soul — say if he knew 
what his boy had come to?" 

*'I don't see what else you could expect. 
You probably fed him on this liquor and water, 
until he got an appetite." 

"Of course I let him drink it. Sure, he would 



A FAVOR. 97 



have died of the cholera if I hadn't. What 
else could I do ? " 

"Whatever else I did, I would not bring up 
my children to be drunkards. That little one 
there loves it already, and in a few years will 
be as bad as Jimmie," said Temple, still severely 
smarting from his own temptation. 

"We can't die of thirst, whatever comes. If 
there was decent water in the village there 
would be no need for us to take the whiskey. 
The mill folks could give us good water if they 
chose. When my man first came here, he had 
a plan all made for using the big engine in the 
file-shops to pump water from the river into a 
reservoir upon the top of the hill, and to do it 
nights ; and they would n't hear to it, * on ac- 
count of the cost. It 's them that makes us 
drunkards ; and it 's little they care, either, as 
long as the dividends are regular." 

"Then your husband was a temperance 
man ? " 

"My husband never tasted liquor till he came 
here. The village we lived in before was a good, 
healthy place, and the boss took some interest 
in the people. He would n't allow a drop inside 
of his fences. The work-folks there were decent 
and respectable, and went to bed nights mstead of 
howling about and breaking each other's heads. 



9^ HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

We would n't have staid here if my man had n*t 
been killed by the machinery.'* 

" You seem to be discontented, but your neigh- 
bors are well enough satisfied," remarked Cham- 
berlain. 

"Satisfied!" almost screamed the woman; 
** that's all you know about it. There's more 
broken hearts among the women-folks of this 
street than there are broken heads among the 
drunken husbands, and that 's saying a deal. 
The worse a person is, the worse they feel. 
There are many of them that have tried, time 
and time again, to get out of this, but they 
can't do it. People made a great noise about 
the poor, black slaves down South, and let the 
white slaves up North alone. Lamson is the 
slave-owner of this village, and Pfaff is his 
overseer." 

" But one can leave," 

"Can one leave? Who will hire him when 
they know he comes from this village? You 
young men think you are free, but just try to 
spread your wings a little and see how soon 
they are clipped." 

The " warning whistle " had already announced 
that it was time to start for the factory, and 
the two were obliged t© hurry back without 
dinner. 



A FAVOR. 99 



" Are you satisfied as to the need of pure 
water here ? " inquired the younger man. 

" I am, and more. I am appalled at the dan- 
ger the children are in. How blind I have 
been. How can godly people rest nights when 
close to their homes are scores of little ones 
being trained up to fill drunkards' graves. Put 
the well through, and God speed you ! Would 
I had something to add to it. But stay ; only 
a few are to get the benefit of this after all." 

" Why ?" 

** Those at the foot of the hill won't go clear 
to the head of Steep Street for water." 

"No, but the water will willingly come down 
to them," was the laughing reply, and without 
further explanation he entered the factory and 
began his afternoon's work. 



lOO HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



VII. 

/gHHAMBERLAIN spent the day following his 
S^ call upon Miss Louisa in planning. While 
busy with his work his mind was teeming with 
schemes for the welfare of the mill folk. 
Many of the measures suggested by his fertile 
brain were visionary. The future was painted 
with the bright colors that youth, health, and 
imagination, untutored by failure, are wont to 
portray. Had he watched his friend Temple, he 
would have seen that he also was deep in day- 
dreams. 

When the visions grew less real, and the two 
awoke to the life that was pulsing about them, 
a strong desire came over each to take the other 
into his confidence, and as the whistle blew, an- 
nouncing the end of the day's work, Temple 
hurried over to Chamberlain and said, — 

"Wait for me; I have something to tell you." 
Leaving the works a little behind the herd 



KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE lOI 

of supper-seeking operatives, they walked slowly 
homeward. 

" I have been thinking," said Temple, eagerly, 
"that Pfaff has had things his own way long 
enough." 

" Yes." 

" You see he controls the trade of the file- 
hands. Not only in liquors, but in almost every 
line. That little variety-store of his contains about 
all the people use, except meat and fish. His 
prices are very high, and his goods second rate. 
He is king of the village, and some say that 
Lamson gets a share of his profits. I can't swear 
to that, but I do know that every other store- 
keeper in the settlement has in some way been 
crowded out a few weeks after starting, and to 
my mind Lamson did it." 

" It 's a shame," said Chamberlain, hotly. 

"I have been contriving all day how to over- 
come this state of affairs, and I think if I had 
a little capital I could fix things so that a second 
store could be maintained in spite of Lamson." 

"How would you do it?" 

"Well, to begin right, I should leave my job, 
file-grinding. Every one so far who has started 
a store has been obliged to work in the factory 
during the day, and keep open evenings, and 
just as soon as they were fairly under way, 



I02 ffis OPPORTUNITY. 

Lamson would dismiss them for some pretended 
offense. Then their rent would be raised, and 
some of Pfafif's friends would run up big bills 
and refuse to pay them. Windows would be 
broken and goods stolen, till the parties gave up 
and moved away, after which Pfaff would flourish 
as before." 

"What a rascally piece of business. I should think 
the authorities in the upper town would stop it." 

"They don't care what is done," replied Tem- 
ple, "and besides, Lamson is a big man up there, 
and what his hands do is referred to him. He 
makes a show of indignation, promises investiga- 
tion, and that is the end of it." 

" Now about your plan 1 " 

" It is this : I would lease one end of " Bug 
Palace" for two years, without telling Lamson 
what I wanted it for, — that would prevent any 
raise on the rent. Then I would stock the lower 
room with such goods as are most salable here. 
I understand that part perfectly, as I was clerk 
in a country store for years before I took to 
drinking. I should put out some money on 
shutters that would n't be easily broken. I should 
sell for cash to doubtful customers, and give 
credit only to those whom I knew were willing 
to pay. Finally, to total-abstinence families I 
would sell goods at cost." 



KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. IO3 

"Pay people to be temperate ? " was the sur- 
prised exclamation. 

" Yes ; pay them to let liquor alone, if need 
be," replied Temple. 

*'I don't know about the wisdom of that. By 
the way, how much money would you need to 
start a store } " 

*'I can tell after a very little figuring. It 
would not be a very large sum, but, small as it 
is, I can never hope to handle it. O, if I had 
the money that I have paid for poison, it would 
be doubly sufficient." 

Some time after this conversation a freight- 
wagon stopped before one of the doors of "Bug 
Palace," and, unloading a heavy blue cask, drove 
away. It was directed to Temple, and was rolled 
by him into the room that he had selected for 
a store. Of the stock that he had purchased, 
this barrel was the first arrival. For several 
weeks the gossips of Steep Street had puzzled 
over Temple's strange behavior. The rumors of 
the manner in which he was changing the filthy 
room into an apartment redolent with paint and 
whitewash had been circulated, repeated, and en- 
larged upon. It was generally believed that a 
billiard and liquor -saloon was to be opened. 
Pfaff smiled at the idea. Not that he doubted 
the opening of such a place, but he was assured 



104 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

from the beginning of its failure. When the 
gamins reported that a cask of some kind of 
liquor had been rolled into the place, all doubt 
was laid aside ; and those whose scores were 
heaviest at the old stand, determined to favor 
the new dealer with their patronage. 

Among them was Gaffney, whose persistent 
thirst, even on Steep Street, provoked many a 
rough joke. During the day mysterious boxes 
arrived and were deposited in the new store. 
The whole settlement was on the qui vive. 
Gaffney, urged by his one mastering passion, de- 
termined to be the first to ** christen" the 
saloon, and taking a quart bottle, started up the 
street. The other topers, with the curious eti- 
quette that holds among them, decided to stay 
away until the "opening." 

Temple was within, unpacking a case of 
goods, when a heavy knock fell on the door. 
He opened it and confronted Gaffney. 

" Good evenin* and good luck ; so you *re 
starting a store?" said the latter heartily. 

"Yes; but I am not ready to sell anything." 

"Oh, that's all right," said his caller jovially, 
pushing his way in and seating himself on an 
empty box. "Houly Moses, but you've got the 
room as clean as a biled-shirt ! Would n't ye 
like me to help ye a bit, now ? " 



KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. IO5 

" Thank you, I guess not," was the reply. 

"xVha! ye don't trust me," said the other 
with a laugh, " but ye do me wrong ; I 've re- 
formed, I have. I have left off drinking, and 
I 'm goin' to live honest and pay me bills ; 
what have ye in the bar'l } " 

" Kerosene," replied Temple. 

"Kerosene," shouted Gaffney with a huge 
laugh " Well, by the houly poker, but you 're 
a cute one. Kerosene — I s'pose they call it that 
because it makes men light-headed.?" 

Temple laughed ; not that he comprehended 
the other's insinuations, but from sheer good 
nature 

"So you have actually reformed.?" he inquired. 

" I have that," was the prompt reply. " Now 
you may not believe it, but I emptied the liquor 
out of this bottle, and was going to the store 
to have it filled with kerosene for the old 
woman." 

"Indeed," was the suspicious reply. 

"Yes, sir," said Gaffney earnestly. "The old 
woman and I would be very glad to try your 
kerosene as long as you have a fresh bar'l. 
Maybe it would give you good luck to have us 
for your first customers. We spend lots of 
money in the course of a year." 

"Gaffney," said Temple, taking the quart bot- 



I06 ffiS OPPORTUNITY. 

tie and going behind the counter, "you under- 
stand that this is kerosene ? " 

**Why, bless your heart, man dear, certainly 
I do," was the delighted reply; "and any man 
that tries to make me believe it *s anything 
else, will have a tough job of it. You may 
trust me." 

As he was his first customer, Temple did not 
accept the coin that was ostentatiously fumbled 
br, and the purchaser went away with his heart 
full of gratitude. 

A number of Gaffney's boon companions saw 
nim come out of the new saloon with something 
under his coat, which they were sure was a 
oottle, so they at once joined him. 

" Did he treat } " was the inquiry. 

" He did that, and right generous." 

"Pass it *round," was the general suggestion, 

" He made me promise that I 'd drink his 
good health myself, afore I give any one else 
a sup of it," said Gaffney, backing up against a 
building. " So here goes ; here 's to the new 
saloon and its owner; may he live long and 
prosper! When Pfaff kicks us out we'll trade 
with Temple, and when he fires us, we '11 go 
back to our first love." 

Throwing back his head, and raising the bot- 
tle to his lips, he took a draught. 



KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. IO7 

An instant later the bottle lay broken in the 
gutter, and the drinker, coughing, spitting, and 
swearing, was making his way rapidly toward 
the doctor's, followed by a hooting crowd. 

As one result of his visit to Temple, he 
<vent to bed sober for the first time' in a month ; 
ilthough vowing dire vengeance upon the villain 
who had "pizened him." 

When Temple's project was fully under way, 
ind the people really knew what the policy of 
the new store was to be, it provoked much 
comment. There was no dearth of customers, 
most of whom, in these first purchases, paid 
cash. One and all loudly denounced the rum- 
selling grocer, and vowed their unalterable in- 
tention of patronizing the "Temperance-store." 
A large number of those who made this resolve, 
and who often reiterated it, loaded the air with 
fumes that strangely belied their words, and that 
caused the new grocer strongly to suspect them 
of being tools of his rivals. He accordingly 
kept so close a watch that none of his goods 
were missing, although much unnecessary han« 
dling was indulged. All things considered, he 
had reason to be gratified with the success that 
had already been attained in the few hours of 
the store's existence. Aware of the close sur- 
veillance to which all in the village were sub- 



108 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

jected, Temple knew that Lamson must be in 
formed of his enterprise. Much to his surprise, 
the agent had asked no questions, and raised 
no objections when he had given notice of his 
intention to leave the works. Neither had he in 
any way attempted to check him in his enter- 
prise. As sanguine as most men, the new 
grocer imagined that things had been so well 
planned as to cause him to feel that there was 
no use in combating him. 

About the time he reached this wise conclu- 
sion, the lawyer was sitting in his private 
office, talking earnestly with the village consta- 
ble, a man who was elected through his influ- 
ence, and was one of his tools. 

"A seizure is the thing now; only it must be 
well devised, and kept quiet until all is ripe," 
said Lamson. 

"You are not in earnest about raiding Pfaff, 
too.?" asked the man, with a ring of incredulity 
in his voice. 

"I am. First, you will go to Temple's and 
discover the jugs and bottles; then you may 
take the other place, and get what you can. 
Then give young Averill all the points for a 
half-column article. Let him talk pretty strong 
on my efforts to crush the infamous traffic, etc.; 
you understand?" 



KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. IO9 

**Yes, sir; but why not let Pfaff off? I am 
afraid he will get angry and raise a row." 

"No, he won't. He will be given the wink, 
and his fine will be paid ; but this Temple will 
have to stand his, and if I am not mistaken, 
it will disgust his few good customers, and per- 
haps discourage him. By the way, do you know 
who backs him in this?" 

"Can't find out for the life of me. I tried 
to pump that young Chamberlain last Saturday, 
but he did n't help me out any. He 's an in- 
nocent, that feller. He asked me if I did n't 
suppose you was backing Temple. He thought 
it would be just like a good, benevolent deacon 
to do some such thing." 

At a loss to interpret the wrathful expression on 
his employer's face, the constable paused in dis- 
may. 

"Did he say anything else?** asked Lamson, 
in a choked voice. 

"No, sir; just then Temple came along, and 
I gave him the wink to be quiet, and he under- 
stood, and began to talk about the work.*' 

"Well, be sure and keep all knowledge of this 
raid from Chamberlain; and don't talk much with 
him anyway," commanded the lawyer. 

"All right, sir; but I'm sure of him. I've 
got him solid. Anything that he knows, I can 



no HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

find out, and that will be quite an advantage, 
considering how intimate he is with Temple. I 
put him on to the fact that we wanted to know 
whether anybody 'in the upper town furnished 
the cash for the * temperance store/ and offered 
him a five if he would find out. You never see 
a feller so tickled " 

«' You " began Lamson, fairly foaming with 

rage, and utterly unable to express his wrath. 

"What's the matter with that?" asked the 
man, beginning also to be angry that his keenness 
should be questioned. " Did n't you tell me to 
pick out some young feller that I could trust, 
and put him on this thing } I tell you, this 
young Chamberlain can be of use to us. The 
men like him first-class. He is a good workman, 
and never drinks. Unless you do get him on 
your side, he will be likely to be against 3^ou." 

"Yes, but — there is something in this matter 
that you don't know, — something that I can't 
explain ; but remember this : don't tell Chamber- 
lain anything. Watch him all you please. Talk 
with him, but don't give him another atom of 
information. If a hundred dollars would recall 
what you have already said to him, I would 
gladly pay it." 

Amazed that his empJoyer should be so stirred 
by what had been said to one of the common 



KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. Ill 

laborers, the man left, and proceeded to carry 
out the plans already laid for the breaking up 
of the new store. 

The day for the seizure came, and everything 
worked well. Temple was taken by surprise, and 
in conscious . innocence, was more than willing 
to have his store searched. What was his amaze- 
ment, therefore, when the searchers discovered 
in a tiny closet at the rear of the shop, a num- 
ber of jugs and bottles filled with liquors. He 
was at a loss to know how they came there, un- 
til a careful examination showed that the clap- 
boards had been removed from the outside, a 
board sawn through, affording access to the 
closet-shelves. 

" Pretty ingenious place you had rigged,'* said 
Ihe constable, with a sneer. 

" Me ! " gasped Temple. 

"Yes, you! I knew you were a fraud, from 
the first." 

The other store was also raided, and the two 
cases came to trial together. The few words 
with which the constable reported the affair to 
Lamson, may describe the success of the plot : — 

** You see, I selected the jugs and bottles and 
had them marked one night down in Pfaff's cel- 
lar, jest as you advised," he said; "then young 
Henley took them over to the engine-house and 



112 ffIS OPPORTUNITY. 

stored them under the floor until all was ready. 
When it was time, he took them up back of 
the store and slipped them through the opening, 
and we stepped in the front way and seized them." 

"Yes." 

^ V/e knew what was in them jugs, and Tem- 
ple never disputed it ; he jest wilted. Well, then 
in the court-room, Pfaff's jugs set in one place, 
and were examined, and he was fined ; and then 
they came to Temple's, and they was examined, 
— Temple all the while looking white as a 
sheet, — and hanged if his *n war n't all /Jled 
with water!'* 

"Water.?" 

"Yes, sir, — water! The jedge tasted it, and 
I tasted it, and the witnesses tasted it. 'T was 
some of that miserable Steep Street water, that 's 
enough to make a boss sick " 

"Now," said Lamson, interrupting the voluble 
executor of the law, "what you must do, is to 
find out who did this. There is a traitor some- 
where. You must hunt him out." 

"O, there ain't no traitor; it was just a joke 
of young Chamberlain's." 

" What did he have to do with it } " was the 
savage inquiry. 

"Well, he was down to the engine-house when 
Henley came in with the bottles.'* 



KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. 113 

''What was he there for?" 

"He was there to show Forsyth how to rig 
the flag-halliards so they would work better. He 
knows, 'cause he has been aboard a yacht." 

"Well?" 

"He was showing of him when in came Henley, 
quiet-like, and hid these things under the floor, 
and then went out and got some more, and 
then came in, and then went out three times. 
When he went away the last time, Chamberlain 
and Forsyth, who had been laying low in the 
room above, and watching through the floor- 
grate, went down to investigate, and found the 
bottles and jugs. They were sure he must have 
stole it, and put it there to drink on the sly, 
and Chamberlain thought it would be a good 
joke to empt' out the liquors and put in water; 
so they did it, although it 'most broke Forsyth's 
heart to pour away good stuff like that was, — 
but he'd do 'most anything for a joke. Then 
they kept dark, and no one else knowed it till 



114 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



VIII. 

OBERT FLINT, although a thorough man of 
business, and deeply in love with dollars and 
cents, had, during his lifetime, surrounded his 
mansion with beautiful grounds. They were, to 
be sure, shut in by lofty fences and walls, but 
the interior had been seen by occasional guests, 
by venturesome boys, by midnight fruit-gatherers, 
and one and all proclaimed the gardens and groves 
unrivalled. When the close-fisted owner had 
breathed his last, more than one thought turned 
to the flowers that blossomed and fruit that rip- 
ened only to fade and decay, with the hope that 
at last these bounties of Nature might do good 
to somebody. But as far as the factory hands 
were concerned, the wisli remained as far from 
fulfilment as before. 

The gardener remained in charge of the place, 
and was greatly feared by trespassers. Instead 
of serving out the dainties of his garden to the 



CONQUERED. II5 



villagers, he kept stricter guard than ever, — lock- 
ing the front gates and posting notices on all 
the walls, threatening intruders with the rigors 
of the law. In addition to this he purchased a 
huge mastiff, which patrolled the premises with 
unceasing vigilance. The only outsider that had 
access to the grand house and its well-kept 
grounds, as far as the public knew, was Mr. Lam- 
son, who, as chief executor of the estate, had, as 
a matter of course, full sway. 

In getting acquainted with the town and its 
surroundings, Chamberlain had as yet kept aloof 
from his uncle's former residence. Having never 
visited it, nor even glimpsed the lofty turrets of 
the old castle-mansion, it was natural that, re- 
membering the extreme penuriousness of his rel- 
ative, he should unconsciously relegate it to a 
position among the disagreeables of life, and 
have little interest in it. When, however, one 
or two of the workmen spoke of it as outshining 
all of the estates in the upper town, he resolved 
V) see for himself. 

It accordingly happened that one bright after- 
noon he found himself walking slowly in the direc- 
tion of the Flint homestead. His first thought 
had been to procure the keys from Lamson and 
go all over the house, but a second had told him 
*,hat this would hardly be in keeping with the 



no HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

" file-grinder character " that he had assumed ; 
moreover, he disliked to ask any favor of the 
agent. A deep-rooted antipathy toward this man 
had taken so strong a hold on his mind, that 
he avoided him as much as possible. He there- 
fore was about to explore the Flint estate on 
the same footing that one of his companions in 
the mill would, — that of a trespasser. 

Passing along the main street, he reached the 
front entrance, which was secured with a heavy 
padlock. Through the trees he saw for the first 
time the outlines of the stately mansion, looking 
far away, cool, and inviting. Above the high 
granite wall the tops of heavily-loaded fruit-trees 
were visible, while summer-houses, graperies, stat- 
uary, and rare flowering trees, shrubs, and vines 
could be seen from an adjacent elevation. 

The explorer wandered along the street front- 
ing this walled oasis, and saw with a feeling of 
rebellion the notices that shut out the world, 
himself included. Reaching the limit of the 
estate, he entered an open field, and still skirt- 
ing the mossy wall continued his walk. Ere long 
the wall was replaced by a high fence. This he 
followed, half tempted to climb, even at the risk 
of his neck, when he suddenly discovered a 
broken slat, and an instant later stood within 
the jealously-guarded enclosure. 



CONQUERED. II7 



Although aware that he of all others had a 
right to tread this exclusive domain, he felt like 
an intruder. It was as if the spirit of the owner 
had expressed itself in the forbidding fences and 
breathed out an omnipresent " No admittance." 

The care on all sides shown by the thrifty 
trees and plants, the graveled walks and close- 
cut turf, the rustic seats and shady arbors, gave 
the place an inhabited air, which only the silent 
mansion contradicted. The gardener must be a 
wonder, thought the young man, as he delightedly 
took in the beautiful details of the grounds. 
Roaming cautiously through the ample domain, 
sampling the luscious fruits that ripened only to 
waste, plucking an occasional blossom, Chamber- 
Iain passed the most enjoyable hour that he had 
known since his arrival in Steelville. Grown 
bolder by his success, he promised himself many 
another visit to his relative's estate. 

In the course of his wanderings he came quite 
near the mansion. An eager desire possessed 
him to visit it. He pictured himself swinging 
in a hammock over the wide veranda in the 
deep shade of the elms, or playing tennis on 
the level lawn in front of the house. It was 
like a look back into his own life. As he pon- 
dered he did not forget that, had he so chosen, 
instead of toiling through the heat of summer, 



Il8 ms OPPORTUNITY. 

he might have been lounging at the mountains, 
or vegetating at the seashore. And even now, 
thought he, it is not too late ; I can obtain 
leave of absence, don a yachting-suit, and join 
my former chums in a month's frolic. But the 
vision of Steep Street, sweltering through the 
summer heat, with the added discomforts that 
poverty and sin bring, caused him to resolve 
with extra vim and firmness that he would stick 
to his post. 

A deep growl awoke him from his reverie. 
Glancing quickly in the direction from whence 
it came, he saw the great watch-dog that was 
the terror of the villagers, advancing toward him, 
his lips drawn back, showing glistening teeth, 
and his eyes flaming with ferocity. It was too 
late to flee back through the garden. Before 
half the distance was accomplished the mastiff 
would overtake him. There was no weapon at 
hand with which defence could be made, and a 
glance at the bristling back of the advancing foe 
showed that pacific measures could not avail. 
The only means of escape was by climbing a 
tree. The fruit-trees were most of them too 
small to assure safety. Not far away, however, 
was a large apple-tree, against which leaned a 
ladder. Instantly deciding, Chamberlain ran for 
this, a hoarse bark from the dog showing that 



CONQUERED. 1 1 9 



he was pursued. Reaching the ladder he sprang 
up its rounds with an agility that months in a 
city gymnasium had given him. A half-second 
later the mastiff was leaping frantically at the 
foot of the tree, baffled and furious. The lad- 
der, instead of resting against a branch, as the 
young man had at first supposed, led to a small 
platform built across the limbs, forming a cosy 
summer-house, and to his utter astonishment and 
confusion, on one of the rustic seats sat Miss 
Whitney, gazing at him with a hauteur that was 
unmistakable. 

"I beg your pardon," said he, coloring deeply, 
"for disturbing you, but the dog hurried 
me. 

She bowed rather coldly, but said nothing. 

" I suppose I shall have to wait till the gar- 
dener appears," he resumed, after a pause, seat- 
ing himself on a bench opposite her. 

Miriam Whitney was in reality much vexed at 
what she considered an unwarranted intrusion. 
To be sure she could not blame the young man 
for springing up the ladder out of reach of the 
dog, but she was angry at his " being on the 
premises, and after a short attempt at reading, 
shut her book and advancing to the ladder, 
started to descend. The dog, seeming to confuse 
her with the stranger who had escaped up the 



I20 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

same way, sprang towards her with so fierce an 
aspect that she recoiled in terror. 

*' He thinks us both trespassers," said Cham- 
berlain, with a touch of enjoyment in his voice. 

"You are mistaken, sir," she said, "the dog 
knows me well." 

Then with a determined air she again attempted 
to go down, calling to the furious dog in a voice 
that should have soothed him had he any ear 
for music. But with strange obstinacy the crea- 
ture with flashing eyes continued to leap half- 
way up the ladder, almost overturning it in his 
eagerness. 

" Had you not better wait until the dog's 
owner comes } " 

"I wish to go now," she said. 

" If there is no other way I will go down and 
attempt to drive the dog away," replied Cham- 
berlain, his mettle rising, " but he is only doing 
his duty, ard I dislike to hurt him." 

Miss Whitney considered this speech a mere 
piece of brivado, but when the youth wrenched 
a leg from one of the seats, and taking off his 
coat wrapped it around his left arm, she saw 
that he was thoroughly in earnest. She made a 
movement as if to deter him, but pride kept her 
lips shut. 

Armed as described, he slowly descended the 



CONQUERED. 121 



ladder, the young lady with white face watching 
his every move. At first sight it seemed as if 
it were to be a most unequal battle. The sinewy 
form of the youth did not balance the deep 
chest and heavy jaws of the mastiff. Chamber- 
lain, however, knew something of dogs. He was 
aware that the fiercest can be subdued by proper 
means. More than once he had seen profes- 
sional trainers completely cow some of the most 
savage of the canine tribe. It was therefore with 
a definite plan of operations in his mind that he 
entered the lists. 

Already the animal was leaping up and snapping 
at his feet. With a quick spring he was on the 
ground at one side, facing the brute. He heard 
an exclamation of alarm as the dog bounded 
toward him and knew it was from Miss Whit- 
ney. In the brief second that he had to think, 
he rejoiced that she should care. The next in- 
stant the dog was worrying the coat-shield on his 
left arm. When the creature had his jaws fully 
set in the coat, with a quick motion Chamberlain 
slipped the bench-leg through the brass-studded 
collar. Then dropping the coat, he twisted on 
the improvised lever till the creature in spite 
of frantic struggles lay on the grass with the 
young man's knee under his fore-shoulder, almost 
choked to death. It would have been easy 



122 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

work to finish the matter and kill the dog, 
hut this he did not wish to do. 

"Are you hurt, Mr. Chamberlain.^'* said an 
anxious, almost tearful voice at his elbow, and 
the victor, panting and flushed with victory, 
looked up and saw his late partner of the 
arbor standing by his side. The proud air had 
entirely vanished. 

" Not a bit," said he heartily, " nor is the 
dog. We are only a little out of breath." 

Still holding the potent lever, he pulled the 
exhausted mastiff to the kennel, which was not 
far distant, and chained him. Then he returned 
to the tree, where stood Miss Whitney, hold- 
ing his coat and leaning against the ladder, 
still white with fright. 

"I am afraid you are ill," said the young 
man, really concerned. 

" No, I am not, but I feel a little faint. I 
think I will go home. Our place adjoins this," 
she replied. 

With a quick return of color she accepted 
the proffered arm. Together they crossed the 
grounds in a direction opposite to that by which 
the young man entered. After going a few 
hundred yards a low wall, the only one in the 
Flint estate, was reached. Stopping at a turn- 
stile, Miss Whitney held out her hand, — 



CONQUERED. 1 23 



"Mr. Chamberlain," she said, "I am ashamed 
and sorry that my rudeness forced you into 
that dreadful battle with the dog. Will you 
forget it?" 

"Never," replied he with a smile, "for that 
most fortunate fracas has really introduced me 
to Miss Whitney." 

"Won't you come in," she said, with a grace- 
ful gesture toward her home. 

"No, thank you, I must go and see how the 
dog fares." 

"Do you know the gardener?" she enquired. 

"No." 

" He is very severe with all intruders," she 
said, adding hurriedly. " Since I was a child I 
have had access to the grounds because we 
were neighbors." 

" I think I can pacify him if I meet him," 
was the assured reply. 

The fair girl standing at the turn-stile struggled 
with herself for an instant, and then said, — 

"I should be pleased to have you call, Mr. 
Chamberlain." 

"Thank you," was the vague reply, and they 
parted. He striding toward the silent Flint 
mansion, she going a few steps, and then 
turning to watch his vigorous figure till he 
passed out of sight 



124 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

"I wonder what the girls will say if he does 
call?" she soliloquized. "A file-grinder; a factory- 
hand ; an ungrammatical — but he isn't ungram- 
matical, he uses splendid English, and is a 
gentleman ; a perfect gentleman, and no coward 
either. I wonder how many of the young men 
in our set would have faced that dog and con- 
quered him ? I wonder if he will turn out like 
the rest of them and call at the first oppor- 
tunity .J*" 

Returning to the dog-kennel, Chamberlain ex- 
amined the mastiff. He found him lying at full 
length, breathing heavily, and still much ex- 
hausted. With a heart full of pity, he went to 
the garden-pump near by, drew some water, and 
allowed the dog to lap it, which he did greedily. 
After that he seemed better, and raised himself 
up, constantly turning his great, intelligent eyes 
up to his conqueror's face, as if to beg his 
mercy. The young man noticed that the dog 
had greeted him this time with no growl, and 
when he patted his head, there came a faint 
wag of the tail. Poor, old, faithful fellow, he 
was much puzzled by this young stranger, who 
had so roughly handled him; yet, he was will- 
ing, when mastered, to pay allegiance, so he 
wagged his tail and tried, to lay his head against 
his knee. 



CONQUERED. 1 25 



Meanwhile, Chamberlain had been expecting 
the arrival of the gardener, of whose sternness 
he had often heard. How he had better meet 
the old man, he could not fully decide. He 
was a trespasser, but so was Miss Whitney. 
The thought came that under cover of her name 
he might gracefully retreat, but he at once dis- 
missed it. Some distance away he could see 
the outlines of a cottage, that he surmised must 
belong to the gardener. Had he known what 
to say, it is possible that he might have made 
his way thither; but the fact that his identity 
must be kept a secret deterred him, and he 
at last reluctantly started to retrace his steps, 
and steal out as he came in. He had gone but 
a short distance when he heard the chains rat- 
tle, and turning, saw the dog trying to follow. 
There was nothing hostile in the motion ; on 
the contrary, every motion expressed the utmost 
friendliness. Obeying his first impulse, he went 
back, unchained him, and again started to trav- 
erse the ground, the mastiff trotting sedately at 
his heels. When the fence was reached the 
dog paused, his eloquent eyes entreating per- 
mission to accompany his new master ; but that 
could not be, so he was told to remain. When 
the end of the picket fence was gained, the 
young man turned and looked back. The dog 



'26 Hjs OPPORTUNITY, 



was earnestly watching . him, as if hoping that 
the decision might be revoked. It was with a 
real regret that Chamberlain passed out of sight, 
feeling as if he had left a true friend, and 
vowing if he could do so, to purchase the noble 
animal to which, in an afternoon, he had be- 
come so strongly attached 



THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE, 1 27 



WA 



IX. 

LL the young and live masculine members of 
((#i the mill settlement, as soon as they were old 
enough to be addressed as Mister, joined the 
engine company. Their machine, the Tiger Num- 
ber One, was an old-fashioned hand-engine, that 
required about forty men on the brakes. This 
company of " fire-fighters " were notoriously hard 
drinkers. Liquor was always to be found in their 
assembly-room. The avowed purpose of the as- 
sociation was to have a good time. When there 
was a fire they attended it, recklessly perilled 
life and limb, after which all hands had a grand 
carousal. The Tigers were an aggressive com- 
pany ; so much so that their trips to neighbor- 
ing factory villages were usually attended by fistic 
exploits that decorated their members, as well as 
their opponents, with bulged cheeks and black 
eyes, the possession of which was deemed no 
disgrace. 



128 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 



Sam Putnam was foreman of this company, 
and although he was far from being a bully, his 
weaker and more cowardly companions managed, 
if possible, to entangle him in their fights, so 
that he had quite a local reputation. He had no 
desire to quarrel, and when sober could not be 
induced to do so; but when excited by liquor he 
lost his cool poise, and the dry humor that was 
the delight of the men, and took a hand in almost 
anything that turned up. 

The Rev. Charles Snow, the pastor of the aris- 
tocratic up-town church, became acquainted with 
Sam. Admiring his splendid proportions and find- 
ing him talkative and courteous, the good man 
fancied that here was one who was not far from 
the Kingdom. The minister was an extremely 
stiff man, slow of speech, awkward of gait, yet 
a scholar and a powerful preacher. It was, as 
he often acknowledged, the greatest trial of his 
life to face an individual in private and ask 
about his soul's welfare. He could thunder from 
the pulpit, could answer questions, but to broach 
the subject personally seemed well-nigh impos- 
sible. Most of his congregation were aware of 
his failings in this particular, and as they were 
a conservative people, thought it of little conse- 
quence, as long as his discourses were scholarly 

In talking with the foreman of the engine 



THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE. 1 29 

company, more than ever before in his life had 
the minister wished to introduce the subject of 
subjects. Sam appeared quite willing to concede 
almost anything, and the opportunity was ripe ; 
but the deep-rooted, morbid bashfulness, if that 
was it, kept the inquiry back, and they separated 
without any religious conversation. One state- 
ment, however, that the giant made clung to the 
gentleman. 

They had been talking of drunkenness, sug- 
gested by the sight of a well-known Steep-street sot. 

" I hope that none of the employes in your de- 
partment drink," said the minister, stiffly, igno- 
rant of what every boy in his congregation knew, 
that nearly all drank. 

" Certainly not," was the grave reply. " Dea- 
con Lamson would never allow it." 

"Ah," said the minister, **I am gratified to 
hear it. Deacon Lamson is certainly an excellent 
man, — altogether different from Mr. Flint, the 
former owner of the steel-works." 

**I never had any fault to find with Flint. 
He was no hypocrite, at all events," said Sam, 
with a gleam in his eye. 

"No," was the awkward reply, "undoubtedly 
not. Don't you think, my friend, — er — that — a 
—some sort of an association for the promotion 
of temperance would be a benefit to this village?" 



130 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

**A kind of Reform Club?" 

*' Yes ; something of the kind. A society that 
should gather say once a week, or even oftener, 
to put down liquor." 

** We have one already. Our engine company, 
the Tigers Number One, are engaged in that 
sort of work," said Sam, solemnly. 

*' Indeed ; I am glad to hear it. How many 
members have you } " 

*' Forty-three." 

"I should be glad to come down and address 
the men on the subject. What nights do you 
assemble.?" said the clergyman, his heart warm- 
ing at the thought. 

"Wednesdays and Saturdays at half-past eight 
in the evening. Glad to have you come, I 'm 
sure. You '11 find us in earnest about putting 
liquor down." 

The words of the leader of the company had 
been the subject of much thought and prayer 
on the part of the worthy man of God. He 
believed that a strong under-current of temper- 
ance was already setting in the mill-village, al- 
though his parishioners would have scouted the 
very idea. He determined to fulfill his promise, 
lend them a helping hand, and if possible, sow 
some Gospel seed that should ripen into precious 
fruit 



THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE, I3I 

As for Sam, he had passed through so many 
experiences with ministers and missionaries, that 
he forgot all about it, never dreaming that the 
proposed visit would be carried out. 

One evening about twenty of the men were 
gathered in the assembjy-room of the engine- 
house, playing cards and dominoes, smoking and 
drinking, when a new comer, stepping up to 
Sam, said, with a grin, — 

"Parson Snow is down-stairs, inquiring for 
you." 

Sam jumped to his feet in dismay. He had 
told the men, in his inimitable way, of his an- 
swer to the minister, about "putting down liquor," 
and in their glee they had nearly brought down 
the house ; and now the man himself was here ! 

"Ask him up, Sam; we'll get him drunk," 
said one or two. 

"That's so; ask him up," said half-a-dozen, 
ripe for a lark. 

"Boys," said Sam, speaking rapidly, "put al] 
the bottles and glasses out of sight. Open the 
windows and let as much smoke out as possible. 
Quietly now ; no noise. This is my game ; I am 
going to manage it." 

By the time he reappeared with the clergy^ 
man, the room had undergone a wonderful change. 
No sign of bottle, glass, or jug, was to be seen. 



132 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



The spittoons were pushed under the tables out 
of sight. The heavy cloud of smoke that had 
filled the room, was rapidly disappearing through 
the open windows. One or two of the mem- 
bers, who were feeling sleepy, were bolstered 
up in corners where they would not be con- 
spicuous. 

Sam and his guest passed down the length 
of the room, and took possession of the ver^- 
diminutive platform that was built for the chair- 
man. 

"Gentleman of the company," said Sam, "some 
time since I invited this gentleman to visit us, 
and speak in one of our meetings. Here he is 
Now let *s all listen to what he *s got to say. 
You all know who he is without my introducing 
him. He is Minister Snow, from up above." 

"Amen," said Gaffney from the corner, where 
he was propped up in a state of collapse. 

The applause that greeted Sam's speech, and 
Gaffney's response, was tremendous, and the 
minister thought he had rarely seen so enthusi- 
astic an audience. 

"My friends," began the speaker. 

"Amen," said Gaffney. 

"Thank you; let us hope that we shall all be 
friends in the fullest sense of the word," said 
the minister heartily. 



THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE. 133 

"A " began the voice, but somebody near 

by put a broad palm over his mouth, and stopped 
the word on the first syllable. 

"I have been a fireman," continued the speaker, 
"although never belonging to an engine com- 
pany " 

"Men," said Gaffney, finishing his word as 
the hand was for an instant withdrawn. It was 
not specially noticeable, however, as another 
storm of applause succeeded. 

The clergyman continued his speech ; and as 
he became interested in his subject, the elo- 
quence that he actually possessed came to his 
aid, and ere long the laugh in every face had 
disappeared, and the men were eagerly listen- 
ing. 

Sam, who at first had been manifestly uneasy, 
grew cooler, and listened with attention. The 
temptation to extravagant applause, which had 
beset the men at first, was entirely quelled; even 
Gaffney subsided. 

The address, which was brief, but full of in- 
formation and power, made itself felt. The fire- 
men expected to hear a milk-and-water appeal 
that would convulse them with laughter. Ou 
the contrary, they heard liquor-drinking and li- 
quor-selling arraigned with such power, that they 
were dumbfounded. The shambling, awkward 



134 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

minister, whose manners even they could criti- 
cise, stood before them the most eloquent man 
they had ever heard. They drank in his words 
with eager attention, and forgot the secret pur- 
poses that they had cherished. 

When the speech was finished, Sam called 
for a vote of thanks, which they gave. He 
then abruptly closed, alleging a private business- 
meeting of the engine company to follow 
directly. After which he hurried the minister 
away, down the stairs, and out into the night, 
going part of the way home with him. 

When he returned the men were still there, 
although remarkably quiet. 

" Don't do that again, Sam, you '11 break us 
up entirely," said one of them. 

"Hump," was the testy reply, "you must be a 
fool if you can't stand it to hear both sides of 
a question." 

" That parson ain't no slouch, fur all he toes- 
out so," said another. "He laid it right down 
in fine shape. Still I wish you had n't done it, 
Sam. It *s jest took all the taste outen my 
beer." 

" Nonsense, what could I do } War n't I sweat- 
ing for fear some of you fellers would give 
him some lip and show him what a fool I had 
made of myself in inviting him ? You would 



THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE. 135 

have insulted him if he had n't been too smart 
for you. You are wrong in thinking all minis- 
ters fools. As a rule they are smarter than any 
of us ; but that is no reason that we should 
get down on our knees when they tell us to. 
I *m going home," responded the leader. 

Sam went, and the meeting adjourned ; but 
thereafter the engine company were dubbed the 
** Reform Club," much to their disgust. 

Thrilled with a great exultation over his re- 
ception at th'^ engine-house, Mr. Snow had 
gone home to tell his wife of his hopes, and 
to pray earnestly that more light might come 
to those whom he considered seekers after it 
That these prayers were not heard and an- 
swered, in spite of the minister's mistaken ideas 
of the "Reform Club," cannot for an instant 
be claimed. 

When next he saw his deacon, Mr. Lamson, 
for whose energy and consecration he had sin- 
cere respect, he hailed him with a joyous ring 
in his voice. 

" I have good news for you, my brother," he 
said,- shaking him heartily by the hand, and for- 
getting for the once his bashful frigidity. 

"Very glad to hear it," was the suave reply. 
"What is it, — another hundred thousand given 
to missions ? " 



13^ BIS OPPORTUNTTY. 

" This is something right at home ; a chance 
for rejoicing in your own mill village." 

" Indeed," said Lamson, with less enthusiasm. 

He was not at all anxious to discuss the 
afifiairs of his operatives, even with his pastor, 
and was heartily regretting that it was not 
some missionary donation. 

" I addressed a large meeting of the mill- 
men, last evening, and was most pleasantly re- 
ceived. I honestly believe that many of those 
men are not far from the Kingdom." 

" Where did you hold the meeting ; open air } " 

"No; in the engine-house, by special invita- 
tion. Mr. Putnam secured me, and the enthu- 
siasm was very great. The men seemed deeply 
iPterested in the few facts that I was able to 
bring them, relative to liquor-drinking. I took 
occasion, also, to arraign both the liquor-dealer 
and all who were accomplices in selling the 
deadly stuff ; and, by the way they listened, I 
am sure it was a revelation to them." 

"It must have been," was the mechanical 
reply. 

" By the way, your action in arresting th^ 
liquor-selling in your village, pleased me exceed- 
ingly. Pfaff has long been a curse to the place; 
can you not drive him out entirely.?" 

"Not as yet; I have been watching for the 



THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE, 137 

opportunity, that occurred last week, for a very 
long time. When things of which I have not 
a right to speak are at last settled, I can do 
as I would like to do now," was the vague 
reply. 

" I am sure you will ; the Lord bless you, 
my brother," was the earnest response, as they 
parted, the pastor to write a glowing letter to a 
brother minister, on the indications of an ap- 
proaching revival, in which he was wiser than 
he knew ; and Lamson, to hurry down to the 
mill and summon Sam. 

" Did you invite Mr. Snow to come to the 
engine-house ? '* he demanded. 

"I guess I did," was the slow reply. 

"What for? Arn't we bothered enough now 
by outsiders, without having him around ; what 
has come over you t " 

"It was a mistake — a joke," answered Sam, 
more humbly than he had spoken for some 
time. 

" Let *s know just how it happened," demanded 
the lawyer; and Sam told the whole story. 

" Now, what about the young upstart ; does 
he still get on well } " said the agent. 

"The men like him better every day; I like 
him myself. He has got the make-up of a 
man." 



138 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



" Never mind that ; is he going through it all ; 
the puddling, and all, mind ? " 

"I think he is, and if he don't know all 
there is to be known in the mill before his 
time is up, my name is n't Putnam." 

"Nonsense," was the impatient reply. "I am 
not afraid of so much as you think. There are 
things he can never know, unless your admira- 
tion for him leads you to tell him." 

"I ain't a traitor," was the short reply. 

"Well, what is to be done with him.? Can 
you think of any scheme that shall lead him to 
get disgusted with the whole business, and 
fhrow it up } '* 

"No, I can't. His habits- are perfectly good; 
he has no vices, and is cool and level-headed. 
Such a man is iron-clad." 

" Man ! He is but a boy," said Lamson. 

"Yet he has beaten you at every move, so 
far, — kinder rough for you to be beaten by a 
boy, when all of the advantage is on your side, 
too." 

The other bit his lips wrathfully, but said 
nothing, and Putnam continued. 

"I tell you, there is no hold to be got on 
this young feller, because he don't drink, noi 
gamble, nor care a snap for any kind of dissi- 
pation. If he had one vice, you could ruin him, 



THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE. 1 39 

and would, I suppose. I would n't help do that ; 
but as it is, he can't be touched by you." 

*'I will euchre him yet," said the agent. 

" I doubt it ; you are cunning, but he 's what 
is better, — he is shrewd. My idea is, that he 
has got the whole situation in his grasp, and 
can read us all like books. When he pulled 
Temple out of drunkenness and set him on his 
feetj he secured the friendship of one of the 
most level-headed men in the mill; and when 
he — when he " 

"When he what.?" 

"When he pulled my little Molly out of the 
river, he gained my friendship ; and whatever 
may come to me or you, I won't ruin him." 

"That's a good sentiment; stick to it," said 
Lamson, with an inscrutable expression. " I have 
it now. He is a generous fellow, — a good fel- 
low. As soon as it can be arranged so that he 
will not suspect too sudden a move, we will 
seek his friendship." 

"No more treachery with him," was the warn- 
ing. 

" Bless you, no ! I have been harsh with him 
because it looked like x\x\r^ o me, if I did not 
use such measures; but 1 see a better way. 
Let me do all the act'';!^, nereafter; you just 
keep quiet, and wait for orders." 



I40 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



1^. 



X. 

cc0qi)ize<a. 



&N old man, gray, wrinkled, but vigorous, was 
walking rapidly down the main street of the 
upper town of Steelville. In front of him trotted 
a fine mastiff. Both man and dog had a char- 
acteristic dignity that led people to step out of 
their way. The man, noticing no one, went into 
the post-office, looked on the list, and as there 
was no letter for him, turned to depart. As he 
did so Tom Chamberlain entered through the 
single door. The dog pricked up his ears, wagged 
his tail, and made straight for him with extrav- 
agant expressions of joy. The young man pat- 
ted his head, and the dog kissed his hand affec- 
tionately. 

"Be careful,*' warned the old man, seeing the 
motion. "Turk dislikes strangers." 

The mastiff's actions, however, contradicted the 
statement, for he continued to show his delight. 

" How did you make friends with him, Mr. 



RECOGNIZED. I4I 



Chamberlain?" asked the postmaster, who was 
looking on with interest. 

*'0h, we are old acquaintances," was the reply. 

Leaving the office he started up the street foi 
a walk, and had gone but a short distance when 
he noticed that Turk was following contentedly. 
Turning to send him back, he encountered the 
old gentleman. 

"Did I understand your name to be Chamber- 
lain, sir.?" he asked, courteously. 

"Yes, sir." 

"You remind me of a gentleman whom I once 
knew of the same name, — George Chamberlain. 
He married a sister of Robert Flint. Perhaps 
you knew him." 

" I have heard of him," said the other, his 
color rising at the sound of the familiar name, 
"but do not remember ever to have seen him." 

"He was a fine young man, and Miss Alice, 
his wife, was a lovely lady. They are dead 
now." 

"You knew them both, you say.?" asked Cham- 
berlain, wiping the perspiration from his forehead. 

"Many a time have I carried Miss Alice in 
my arms all over the garden when it was damp, 
that she might see the flowers. She was very 
fond and proud of my garden. And her husband 
I knew as well as if he had been a relative." 



142 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

** And do I appear like him ? " said the poor 
fellow, with brimming eyes, in spite of his efforts 
at self-control. 

The old man adjusted his glasses and looked 
searchingly at his companion. 

"Are you George Chamberlain's boy.?" he said, 
sharply. 

"Let us go inside, and I will tell you," was 
the answer, for they were already at the high 
gate that opened into the Flint grounds. When 
they had entered, the gardener eagerly put the 
question again. 

"Yes, I am his son," was the reply. 
" I knew it ! I knew it ! You are little Tom," 
throwing his arms about him in excess of joy. 
" You look like him, you speak like him, you 
have his whole bearing. You are Miss Alice's 
boy. Did she never tell you of old Allan } " 

"She died a year after father. I was barely 
three years old, and can remember but little 
about her." 

" To be sure ! to be sure ! " said the other, 
wiping his eyes. "And then you were placed 
under a guardian to be educated. Oh, but my 
lad, I 'm right glad to see you. It does my 
heart good ! " 

" I did n't intend at first to tell of my rela- 
tionship, but when you spoke of my father and 



RECOGNIZED. 143 

mother, I could not bear to go away without 
hearing more of them." 

"You are not in any trouble that you are-- 
forgive me, Master Tom, but you are not hiding 
for any reason ? " asked the gardener, anxiously. 

" No, indeed, nothing of the kind. I will tell 
you in part what I am doing. Only, what I 
say must not be repeated till I give you per- 
mission. It is quite important that it should b'*. 
kept secret." 

"Very well, sir," was the respectful reply. 

"I am in the file-works as a common laborer. 
Every one in town, who thinks of it, supposes 
that I am like all the rest of the hands there, 
and that is just /vhat I wish." 

"No word of mine shall undeceive them, sir," 
said Allan. 

"When I was at school,** continued he, aftei 
a pause, "all the other fellows had fathers and 
mothers who were often writing and sending 
them things, — little things they were many times; 
but I would have given all my pocket money 
foi* the love that accompanied them. Doctor Pon^ 
sonby was kind, but he never knew how I longed 
for some real flesh-and-blood relatives." 

" It must have been hard. My woman and I 
used often to wonder how Miss Alice's boy 
fared. But we heard little or nothing from you. 



144 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

Master Robert had some sort of feeling against 
your father, and would not talk about any of 
you. Now, Master Thomas, won't you come to 
our cottage and let the old woman have a sight 
at you ? She is n't very well, and it will be bet- 
ter than medicine for her." 

There was such entreaty in the tone, and hos- 
pitality had been so frugally bestowed since he 
had been in Steelville, that Tom accepted and 
crossed the grounds toward the vine-covered cot- 
tage. As they passed the apple-tree containing 
the rustic seat. Chamberlain halted and told the 
gardener of his adventure, and how he had made 
friends with Turk. 

"Ah, that is why he was so glad to see you 
He was conquered, and was willing to own it. 
These mastiffs never forget. I don't suppose any 
power on earth could make him attack you 
again," said Allan. 

The dog seemed to know that they were talk- 
ing about him, for he looked from one to the 
other, then pushed his cold nose into the young 
man's hand, as an oath of fealty, and trotted 
ahead toward the cottage. At the door stood a 
wee, bent figure, — faded and wrinkled, but still 
kindly and beaming. 

" Who, think you, this gentleman is ? " asked 
Allan, 



RECOGNIZED. 1 45 



** I 'm sure I cannot tell, with these last glasses 
ye brought me, Allan, dear ; but whoever )ie 
may be, he is welcome." 

"This is Miss Alice's boy," said he, with a 
tremble in his voice. 

** The Lord be praised ! " ejaculated the old 
lady. "How I have longed to see you, dear lad ! 
Come in, come in. You may not feel acquainted 
with Allan and me, but we know you. Your 
mother and father have spent many pleasant 
hours in this little house." 

So deeply was Chamberlain stirred by the sim- 
ple-hearted hospitality, that it brought a big lump 
in his throat, which he tried in vain to swallow. 
He had in his loneliness longed for the home 
element that other boys were so rich in. They 
had brothers, and sisters, and parents, but he 
l;ad none. It was not wonderful that he had be- 
come reticent, and was in the habit of looking 
on both sides of a question before he became 
enthusiastic over it. His friendship for Will 
Marshall was the only real affection he had as 
yet felt for any one, beside the vague feeling 
that haunted him when he tried to recall the 
face that had once leaned over him in his cradle, 
and had soothed his baby troubles. The misty 
memory-picture had grown so faint as to be 
almost obliterated, and of late years had become 



14^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

blended with a miniature of his mother that he 
possessed. He strove to keep the two separate, 
ior he felt that when they blended he should 
lose the last real look of the mother he so 
longed for. 

The old couple, in their quaint little home, 
telling him of his mother, seemed to bring the 
past nearer. At last he had found friends who 
could talk sympathetically of his parents. It 
seemed to him, in his thankfulness, as if he 
would not exchange their simple, heartfelt afEec- 
tion for anything on earth. 

Old Allan told his wife about his employment 
in the works, and she was filled with kindly 
concern. 

"I fear you will never stand it. Do you feel 
well, dear ? " she said. 

"Yes, indeed; it is toughening me. I am a 
great deal stronger than I was when I entered." 

"Where do you board? At the hotel?" she 
inquired. 

He told the name of his humble boarding 
place, and Allan's wife lifted her hands in as- 
tonishment. 

"Do they cook to suit you?" she asked. 

"I have had better meals," was the laughing 
reply; "but they do the best they can. The 
food is plain and wholesome. It is such as the 



RECOGNIZED. 1 47 



rest get, and possibly a trifle better. I can 
stand it." 

"I have been thinking, Allan, dear, that we 
have a spare room, and could have him with 
ns, — if you would be willing to come here," 
she said, turning to the visitor. 

He saw the eagerness in her eyes, and the 
pleased look in her husband's face, and he 
thought how delightful it would be. There 
would be the whole range of the garden ; he 
could enter the mansion, unseen by prying eyes, 
and have access to the library. These possible 
enjoyments flashed over him at once, but he 
put them aside. 

"Thank you," he said, sorrowfully; "I wish I 
could come, but it is impossible. I am performing 
a difficult mission, and my place for the present 
is among the operatives; working as they work, 
living as they live." 

"But you will come often to see us ."' said 
Allan and his wife in a breath. 

'*I will, you may be sure; if only to ^-r^ some 
of these buns," he answered, with a ;ol]y laugh. 

The old couple laughed joyously w':h him. 

"That is a family taste. I ne^-er knew one 
of your kin who did not like tbcti , and they 
always said that Martha's were th^ best ever 
made," said Allan. 



148 HIS OPPORTUNITY 

" I don*t know, Allan, dear, but mayhap the 
lad would like to go over the house and see 
his mother's room and the family portraits,'* 
said Martha, in a hesitating manner. 

"Indeed I would, if it would not make Lam- 
son angry with you," was the eager reply. 

"Mr. Lamson is not my master," said the old 
man, with an expressive nod. "He issues many 
commands, but they do not overturn the regular 
order of things. I know my business, and at- 
tend to it. He is only an executor." 

After a little delay, Allan secured a large 
bunch of keys, and followed by the whole com- 
pany, including Turk, made his way to the man- 
sion. The great doors swung open, and the son, 
with beating heart, entered the ho.use that for 
years had been his mother's home. From the 
hall with its marble floor, which sent the echoes 
of their footsteps ringing through the empty 
apartments, they passed up the broad stairs to 
a pretty alcoved room, the hangings and deco- 
rations of which were so warm and pleasant as 
to entirely banish the deserted feeling that had 
oppressed the young man when first he entered 
the house. 

"Miss Alice's room," said old Martha, in a 
tone of loving reverence ; and he felt as if at 
last he stood in the presence of his mother. 



RECOGNIZED. I49 



With true tact, the gardener and his wife slipped 
away, and he entered alone, and standing in the 
middle of the apartment looked about him. In 
one of the alcoved windows was a rocking-chair, 
before which stood a quaint, little work-table 
with some unfinished work still on it. Scissors, 
thimble, and thread lay as if in use but a 
moment before. As the son looked, the form 
that he could but mistily remember grew again, 
and seemed to occupy the accustomed seat. 
The dear mother-face that had soothed his baby 
dreams was again almost real, — almost tangible. 
He sank on his knees by the chair and blindly 
reached out for a hand-clasp — a touch. 

"O, my mother!" he whispered, "my mother!" 
Kneeling thus in this atmosphere made holy 
by mother-love, a great peace came over hia. 
He had long been aware that the prayers of tha 
mother had many times ascended for her onl} 
son; and now that they were answered, and tha' 
he had become a follower of his mother's Saviour, 
the blessedness of such a relation filled him with 
joy inexpressible. The sweet poetry of the Psalm- 
ist, — ** I am Thy servant and the son of Thy 
handmaid," — ran again and again through his 
mind. As he arose from his knees, after a 
silent, heartfelt prayer for guidance, that he 
might so live as one day to meet that mother 



ISO IfIS OPPORTUNITY. 

in Heaven, his eye caught a tiny gold ring sus- 
pended by a blue ribbon from a part of the 
chandelier. Upon taking it down he found in it 
the initials A. E. F. — his mother's before mar- 
riage. Accepting this as a precious memento of 
this visit, which perhaps could not be repeated 
until his period of probation was over. Chamber- 
lain hung it on his watch-chain and rejoined his 
friends in the hall. In obedience to his request, 
they now proceeded to the family picture gal- 
lery, where hung portraits of the Flints for 
generations. Among them all he at once recog- 
nized the sweet, girlish face that had so long 
been with him; that was his ideal of perfect 
loveliness. He tarried long before this picture of 
his mother, impressing its every feature on his 
mind, until he was called away by old Allan. 

"I thought perhaps you might be interested 
to see the picture of your uncle. The light is 
going very fast," he said, apologetically. 

It was with no little interest that the nephew 
halted before the portrait of him whose letter 
he had read and re-read, and whose request had 
changed the whole thread of his life. As he 
expected, the face was full of stern lines, — full 
of firm resolve and haughty pride. There was 
in the keen eye a look of constant pain and un- 
rest, that the artist must have faithfully copied, so 



RECOGNIZED. ^S^ 



well did it tally with the rest of the face. The 
aquiline nose, the thin lips, betokened the ac- 
quisitive cast of the mind; while the lofty, dome- 
shaped forehead, from which the hair was brushed 
carelessly away, indicated intellectual ability. 

"Poor master Robert," said Allan; "he was 
crossed in love when but a young man, and 
never got over it. The pain was always with 
him. He tried to drown it by money-making 
and by study, but the picture tells how he suc- 
ceeded. He was a strange man, and grew bitter 
as he grew older; yet, he did many kind acts 
unbeknown, and I shall never forget his good- 
ness to me.'* 

"Did he study much?" 

**A11 night long sometimes. He never rested 
well nights, and he could only forget his troubles 
by hard work. I know he said to me one day, in 
his quick, nervous way: * Allan, they call labor 
a curse; to me it is a blessing, — the only bless- 
ing I enjoy.' His library contains books in many 
outlandish tongues, and he could read them all. 
When he couldn't study on account of his head, 
he used to work over the fruit-trees and the 
flowers; and good gardener as I then claimed 
to be, it was all I could do to keep pace with 

him." 

After a glance at the library, that was far 



152 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

too brief to satisfy him, and a general survey 
of the different rooms, enlivened by the remi- 
niscences of the aged couple, Chamberlain again 
stood on the gravelled walk. As twilight was 
already fast turning into dark, he bade them 
good evening, and escorted to the gate by Turk 
started for home. 



IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. 153 



XI. 

Ir) • ]^cn)en)bpa:r)ce • ©| • iTye. 

SWEET Sabbath hush had settled over 
Steelville. The wide-throated chimneys of 
the file-works had ceased to belch forth smoke, 
— the throbbing engines and crashing trip-ham- 
mers were at rest. The only sounds that broke 
the quiet were the far-off shouts of the quoit- 
throwers, and even they, softened by distance, 
served to intensify the stillness. 

In the upper settlement the noise of the 
world seemed entirely shut away. The bells had 
ceased to clang, and even the gentle vibrant 
tolling of the North Church bell had gone 
lingeringly over the distant hills, and was lost 
in the brooding silence. 

Within the church were gathered the wor- 
shipers ; it was Communion Sabbath. The beau- 
tiful audience-room, with its mellow light, its 
reverent congregation, its absorbing quiet, seemed 
the abiding place of holy thought, of penitent 
resolve. 



154 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

Among the communicants sat Chamberlain and 
Temple. Before God and men they solemnly 
covenanted to follow in the footsteps of the 
Master. Into their full hearts flowed a sweet 
and healing peace. Softened, purified, they re- 
joiced in acknowledging before the world their 
belief. Very happy were they as they bowed 
before the Lord, full of real purpose to preach 
Christ and Him crucified, by word and act, for 
the rest of their lives. 

"This is the House of God; this is the 
gate of Heaven," murmured Chamberlain, his 
hand seeking Temple's. 

Miss Whittier, in whose pew the young men 
sat, watched them with gratified interest. Con- 
servative she was, as were most of the North 
Church people ; yet her heart warmed to- 
ward the two youthful soldiers, so zealous for 
the Lord. There were others among the con- 
gregation, who awakened by the sight of two 
men from the file-works among them, as wor- 
shipers, rejoiced, and forgetting their inbred 
stiffness, warmly welcomed them. 

The Rev. Mr. Snow, thankful above all others 
that a movement was begun in the lower vil- 
lage, prayed and praised with fire and eloquence 
that a direct answer of prayer alone can in- 
spire. He prayed openly, earnestly, for the 



IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. 155 

mill settlement, pleading its wretchedness and 
misery, till even Lamson, really touched, wiped 
his eyes. Few hearts are so hardened that the 
Spirit can not strive with them. Foolish, blind 
Lamson; plotting to defraud Steep Street, — to rob 
God ! Listen to the voice in your heart ; it is 
the Lord's ! He pleads with you ! Even you 
who have for years robbed Him ; even you, 
hypocrite, falsifier, and you, as ever before, 
harden your heart and reject him. Alas! what 
are the few dollars you gain compared with the 
worth of your soul? 

"This is my body broken for you," trembled 
the voice of the pastor, and the thought of 
the great atonement pervaded the room like a 
living presence. 

"Eat ye all of it." 

With love and reverence, with broken, con- 
trite hearts, the new disciples ate, remembering 
Him who, on Calvary, died that their sins might 
be no more. 

" This is my blood of the New Testament 
ahed for you," read the thrilling voice. 

How precious that blood, the starting tear, 
the quivering lip, the heart-leap of love, could 
ill testify. Gethsemane and the cross rose be- 
fore them. The agony that no tongue could 
paint, no words express, the boundless love 



15^ mS OPPORTUNITY. 

that wrested even from the biting pangs of 
death the glorious victory, swept over them in 
its wonderful beauty, its power, its God-likeness. 

"Drink ye all of it." 

Bearing the symbol of the precious blood, 
the deacons served with reverence. From scores 
of hearts rose earnest prayer and fresh resolve. 
Then came the plaintive hymn, sung without 
organ or choir, the hymn that brought to mind 
the "upper chamber," where were gathered "the 
few." 

" After they had sung a hymn they went out." 

As Chamberlam and Temple walked toward 
home, the heart of the former fairly overflowed 
with joy. 

"I am so happy," he said, "I wish I could 
see Will Marshall. How he longed for my con- 
version ; how happy he would be I I must 
write him." 

"Who is Marshall?" asked Temple, in a 
strange, hoarse voice. 

The other looked at him in surprise. 

"He is my friend," he said; "you have heard 
me speak of him." 

" Oh, yes," was the absent reply, " I believe 
I have." 

" He is a splendid fellow. Some day I hope we 
both may see him ; he would be such a help 



IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. 157 

to US If ever a man loved and served the 
Lord Jesus, that man is Will Marshall. I al- 
ways honored him, but now I love him for it." 

Temple was silent. 

** Why do you hurry so ?" asked Chamberlain 
finally. " Won't people wonder at our walking 
at this rate?" 

" I must get home," said Temple, a bright 
flush burning in his cheek. " Don't hinder me ; 
don't do it ! I must be alone ! " 

With increasing^ surprise Chamberlain allowed 
himself to be hurried along toward the mill 
village. Fortunately for his feelings, few went 
that way, and their rapid pace was not noticed. 

Reaching his boarding place, Temple hastened 
in, hardly saying good-bye. His companion, in 
his great happiness, attributed it to overpower- 
ing emotion. Full of peace, he went home 
with a heart-hunger to share his gladness with 
some one, — any one. 

He met Gaffney, and was going by with the 
usual nod, when the thought came, "Why not 
share with him ? *' 

"Nonsense, he would laugh at me," was the 
mental reply. 

"What of that ? Preach the gospel to every 
creature," came the answer, and with much mis- 
giving, he said, — 



15^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

*'Gaffney, where are you bound?" 

"After some one who has the price of a 
drink to lend," was the answer. " Does that 
happen to be yourself?" 

" Come up to my room and let us talk it over." 

The bloated sot followed the young man up 
the winding stairway and seated himself in one 
of the two chairs that the room contained. 

Chamberlain could not but notice the broad 
shoulders and good proportions of the drunkard, 
disfigured though he was by the liquor. They 
seemed more noticeable in the room than they 
did out of doors. 

"Gaffney, you must have been a powerful man 
once," he said. 

"That I was, boy, that I was; next to Sam 
Putnam, I was. Few men in this village or the 
next cared to meddle with me." 

"And now — " 

"Now the little kids on the street 'square 
off' at me and call me names; but that's none 
of your business," said Gaffney suddenly, wax- 
ing angry. "You will never be half the man 
I was." 

"Gaffney," said Chamberlain, "the Lord Jesus 
Christ at this moment looks into your heart, and 
sees that you hate rum, and would be free from 
it. He will help you. He can set you free." 



m REMEMBRANCE OF ME, 159 

*' It *s a lie ! " said the other, the tears start- 
ing to his eyes and running down his face. "It's 
a lie ; no power can save me ! Have n*t I sworn 
that I would break off, and failed? Haven't I 
tried everything?" 

*' He can save you." 

«* I 'm a Catholic, " said Gaffney. " I don't 
train in your crowd. I tell you, nothing can be 
done." 

*' Catholic or Protestant, the Lord has the 
power, and only waits for you to ask him. Will 
you do it ? " 

"I would if I could believe it," answered the 
wretched man, " but what is the use ? Now, there 
is Deacon Lamson " 

"Never mind him. He must some day answer 
for himself. Let us look only at our own dis- 
ease," was the steady reply. 

" If this is so, why don't some one try it ? " 

" Hundreds have, and have been saved. Men 
who loved liquor as well, and perhaps better than 
you do, have been freed from it. There is Tem- 
ple. He has asked for this help and received it. 
Before doing so he failed in every single resolve 
he made." 

" Don't Temple drink nothing now ? " asked 
Gaffney, impressed. 

" Not a drop ! I never saw such a change in 



l60 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

a man. He prayed and was helped. Comt 
over to his room and let him talk to us abouf 
it." 

A three -minutes* walk brought them to the 
house. Entering, they ascended to Temple's 
room. The door was locked. The young man 
cnocked. 

" Who is there } '* said a hoarse voice. 

" Chamberlain." 

A volley of imprecations followed, accompanied 
ly a crash of glass, as though a tumbler had 
\ een hurled at the door. The fierce fumes of 
^teep- street whiskey penetrated even to the 
b ^11. 

Gaffney laughed, a despairing, horrible laugh, 
ai d said, — 

" That *s it ! He is drunk as a fiddler ! He 
prjiyed and got help! Just the kind of help I 
am looking for ! Just the help they all get ! 
W^at a fool I was to think that I could be 
fre.;!" 

With an oath Gaffney started to go down 
staira, but Chamberlain, his whole energies ab- 
sorbcof by an earnest desire to save the soul 
that had acknowledged an interest, and reso- 
luteh crowding aside his doubts, threw himself 
upor> his knees in the passage-way and begged 
the lord, for his name's sake, to heal this soul, 



IK REMEMBRA^rCE OF ME. l6l 

— not to allow the fall of another to keep him 
out of the Kingdom. At first the man laid a 
rough hand on his shoulder and attempted to 
pass him, but as the earnest petition arose he 
paused, and soon his hand fell, and he staggered 
back and leaned against the wall. 

** Stop, boy, stop," he whispered huskily. " It *s 
mocking to pray for me ; I ain't worth it." 

"O Lord, heal this soul. Give him faith; 
give him light ; keep him safe. O Lord, make 
him thy servant even now." 

" Don't, lad ; spare me. I hate it all now, 
but in an hour I '11 be just as bad as ever. 
Don't let me take the holy name on my lips 
and then desecrate it ; let me go." 

"Draw him nearer to Thee. Let him see 
Thee as Thou art. Give him true repentance. 
Guard him from this moment as Thine own. 
O Lord, thou hast promised though one's sins 
be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow ; 
though they be red like crimson, they shall be 
white as wool. It is so with this man ; his sins 
have been many." 

" Yes, yes ; mountains ! " groaned the drunkard. 

" He acknowledges them, — he repents ; and 
now he pleads Thy promises. Thy blood was 
shed for the forgiveness of his sins, and through 
Thy great loving kindness he now claims it." 



1 62 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"Yes, Lord," sobbed Gaffney, utterly broken 
down, and at length upon his knees ; " I 've tried 
everything else, and although I 've known it in 
my heart that you could help me, I have been 
too cranky to give you a show ; but if you '11 
forget it, O Lord, and forgive my sin, I '11 pitch 
in and serve ye my level best. I 'm a poor, 
miserable, shucks of a man, but I mean what 
I say, — I mean business every time." 

It was a rough prayer, but it went straight 
up to the Great White Throne, and the drunkard 
rose to his feet forgiven. 

During the petition a great silence had fallen 
Mpon the group. No more oaths came from the 
room where Temple was ; and if he heard, he 
made no sign. At length Chamberlain knocked 
again and hstened for reply. All was still. He 
softly and lovingly called his friend's name, 
determined, if possible, to win him back to 
righteousness, even if this fall — which had in- 
expressibly shocked him — should tempt him ts 
abandon all hope. He felt that the Lord had 
shown him great mercy in bringing Gaffney to 
himself; and wonderfully encouraged, he resolved, 
if need be, to stay all night before his friend's 
door, lest he should come out desperate and 
drown remembrance in carousing. With a hearty 
grip of the hand, and a warm *' God bless you," 



IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. 1 63 

Gaffney had gone home to impart the glad news 
to his drunken wife. 

As Chamberlain stood softly knocking, the 
landlady came up the stairs, a bunch of keys in 
her hand. 

*' Here," she said, " I can let you in. Try 
this key." 

Inserting the skeleton key that she presented, 
he carefully pushed the other out, and then, 
with an apology on his lips, unlocked the door 
and entered the room. It was empty. An open 
window showed the manner of Temple's exit, 
and the broken glass and empty bottle spoke 
only too eloquently of his frightful debauch. 
With a heavy heart he stood in the middle of 
the small apartment and looked around. There 
was the Bible, a present from Miss Whittier, 
stained and torn, swept to the floor by a drunken 
Land. He picked it up and laid it gently in 
its accustomed place, praying the while that the 
day might come, and speedily, that John Temple, 
clothed and in his right mind, might again value 
it as before, and again try to live up to its 
teaching. 

Mechanically he locked the door, after leaving 
a note on the open Bible, begging his friend 
to try again, and whatever his resolution, to 
come and sec him before going away. With a 



164 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

faint hope that this might, through God's bless< 
Ing, be the means of arresting his downward 
course, the young man went sorrowfully to his 
lodgings. How much he had leaned upon his 
friend he now knew, for he felt so sadly alone 
that he was well-nigh discouraged. He dreaded 
the coming week, when all the men would be 
scoffing at the fallen convert ; and above all he 
feared for the influence it would have upon 
them. That the Lord could and did keep those 
who trusted fully in Him, he did not doubt; 
but would not the file-grinders question it? 
There was Gaffney, to be sure, who seemed to 
be really converted, but there was every chance 
for him to slip. A drunken wife, a set of 
rioting, drinking neighbors, and but a slight 
knowledge of the " way of life." The Lord 
could teach him; but Chamberlain trembled as 
he thought of the self-confidence of ihe man, 
even when he was in the gutter. No doubt he 
meant to do right, and would for a time ; — but 
was it lack of faith on Chamberlain's part, or 
a knowledge of men, that led him to distrust? 
Perhaps it was both ; yet the young man prayed : 
" O Lord, for the sake of poor, down-trodden 
Steep Street, let not this man fall." 

So pressed was he by the burden that rested up- 
on him, that two hours later, just in the edge of 



IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME, 1 65 

the evening, he strolled down the street, to see if 
Gaffney was in any of his usual haunts. At first 
his search was unsuccessful. One place after 
another was visited, and no signs of the burly 
figure were to be seen. Becoming a little more 
cheerful, at not readily finding the object of his 
search, he went on, determined to convince himself 
that his doubts were unfounded. The last place 
on his list was the engine-house, and on the 
steps he found him, in a deep, drunken sleep. 
With a groan he turned away and hurried 
home. 

Passing one of the "loafing corners," he tar- 
ried an instant to hear the last of a story that 
one of the young roughs was relating. 

"After he got through with his sermon, and 
was sitting as independent as you please, refus- 
ing to touch a drop of anything, one of the fellers 
slips up behind him and holds his arms, and an- 
other chucks the nose of a bottle right into his 
mouth. At first he struggled like a good one, 
but all of a sudden he stopped, and drank till 
they had to pull it away, and now he 's drunk 
as a trooper.'* 

Completely discouraged, feeling as if the Pow- 
ers of Darkness were too strongly entrenched in 
Steep Street for even a soul to be saved, he 
passed along. The knowledge that men could 



l66 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



deliberately force another to drink, and rejoice 
in a downfall that would probably mean the loss 
of a soul, was to him inexplicable. Why should 
not the most depraved be glad if any one had 
the grace given him to climb up out of the 
miry pit? 



TAAPS SECRET, 1 67 



XII. 

T was midnight. Chamberlain, unable to sleep 
after the scenes of the afternoon, quietly 
dressed and started for a walk, hoping the fresh 
air would calm his throbbing brain Without 
thinking as to where he might go, he passed 
through the village, over the road tha*" he traveled 
four times a day. No lights were burning ex- 
cept in the engine-house, where a glimmer through 
the close-drawn shutters showed that some of the 
company were still prolonging their Sunday spree. 
Going rapidly through the settlement, he reached 
the great enclosure in which stood the buildings 
of the file-works. All was so silent that it seemed 
not the same place that it did in the glares of 
the daylight, with the machinery making hideous 
din. A feeling of awe came into his mind as the 
buildings loomed up before him like masses of 
shadow. 



1 68 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

As he strode on, the remembrance of Temple 
as he had appeared at his best, when he was 
trying so hard to serve the Lord, came again 
and again to the young man. It could not 
be possible that he had been deceived as 
to his own real desire for a new life, and 
the thought that it had all been a sham from 
the first, which many would bring forward, 
was, he felt assured, entirely groundless. The 
suddenness with which Temple had fallen, and the 
shock that it produced in connection with the 
impressive communion service, would certainly do 
harm. 

Over and over again he had recalled even the 
minutest details of speech and action. The 
awful problem as to why his friend had been 
suffered to slip back to living death when just 
rescued, was more than he could solve. He knew 
that Temple must have been converted, must 
have loved the Lord, must have been accepted 
and forgiven. Had this not been so, could he 
ever have kept from liquor as he had for months 
before the dreadful Sunday.^ As he recalled that 
Sabbath, the strange feverishness of his companion 
after the service, his frantic haste to reach home, 
his incoherence, all combined to perplex the 
young man. Shuddering at the thought of his 
fearful fall, — praying that even now there might 



TAM'S SECRET. 1 69 



be hope for him, yet ignorant as to the cause 
of his relapse, Chamberlain sped on. 

At length he became wearied and turned to- 
ward home. His heated blood had cooled, and 
he felt that he could leave the matter 
to the Lord, assured that it would all come 
out right. By the time the file-works were 
reached on the way back, he was weary enough 
to take a "short cut," and leaving the main 
road he entered a path that ran along in the 
shadow of the lofty board fence in the rear of 
the mill-enclosure. This path was used by the 
operatives alone, and led to the river, where a 
narrow foot-bridge connected it with the Steep-street 
settlement. He hurried on in the uncertain light, 
sometimes splashing in little pools of rain-water, 
at others stepping carefully over some queer 
shadow. The night, partly cloudy, partly bright, 
and the strangeness of the situation, were not 
without their effect; an uncanny feeling which the 
loneliness and the piercing cries of the whip- 
poor-wills served to intensify, came over him. 
About one-half the length of the seemingly in- 
terminable board fence had been passed, when 
close by sounded a human voice. As he had 
been walking softly and doubted if the speaker 
had eithei seen or heard him, he instantly 
stood still and listened, and after an instant's 



I/O HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

silence it came again, — this time distinctly, a 
man's voice, sad and querulous, not loud, but 
clear as a bell. 

''I'm verra, verra weary," it said, "verra 
weary.'* 

Chamberlain's first thought had been that it 
was some one belated like himself, and traversing 
the same path; but to his astonishment he now 
discovered that the voice came from the mill- 
yard. The portion nearest him was crowded with 
buildings not in use, and made available as a 
sort of storage yard. He had been in it but 
once, and could summon a dim vision of two or 
three rusty boilers, heaps of building material, 
an acre or two of cases, and a few stone-cut- 
ters' shanties; the last named built up against 
the lofty fence. As nearly as he could tell, the 
voice came from one of these sheds. 

"I saw George Chamberlain the other day in 
the works. Aye, but he's a fine lad. I have a 
mind to tell him about that cheating Lamson. 
Robert Flint will never believe but what he is 
a' right, but don't I ken him t " 

Startled and astounded. Chamberlain stood 
rooted to the spot. The plaintive Scotch voice 
had mentioned his father's name as* well as that 
of his uncle, and had condemned Lamson. Who 
was this stranger who spent the night in the 



TAM'S SECRET, 17 J 



yard where only the watchman had a right ? 
And how came he by his knowledge even of the 
names he used ? 

" Ah, Tam ! Tarn ! ye have no head for vil- 
lanies," continued the voice, "Why could ye no 
accept Lamson's proposal and meek yeer fortune ? 
Has yeer conscience paid ? Robert Flint dinna' 
believe ye, and George Chamberlain went awa' 
so that ye could na' tell him. Ye think he 's 
back, but dinna be sure. It does na' luke just 
like him. It may be one who has his appear- 
ing." 

Crowding close to the fence, he was drinking 
in every word. At first, when the unseen speaker 
had apostrophized Tam, he had thought that he 
was spoken to, but the tone and the subsequent 
words convinced him that the speaker's name 
was Tam. He wondered who he might be. The 
name was totally unfamiliar. 

"Ye would na' make the crucibles into polish 
in secret, would ye, Tam, because ye kenned it 
wad be thieving from the company, but what 
gained ye by yeer conscience } Only the hate o' 
Lamson. Had not the Loord raised up Sam 
Putnam, wad ye no been kilt ? Aye, that ye 
would, Tam. Thank the Loord, auld lad, for Sam 
and thank him that ye kept yeer conscience — 



«72 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

The speaker ceased, and there was again the 
deep night-silence. For a long time Chamber- 
lain stood waiting to hear more, but the strange 
Scotchman spoke no other word. Chamberlain, 
longing for a sight of him, looked wistfully at 
the high fence with its row of sharp spikes, 
but could see that any attempt to scale it would 
be useless. 

At last, unable to leave without an effort to- 
ward better acquaintance, he knocked softly on 
the fence. 

There was a rustle on the other side, as if 
one had roused up to a sitting posture to listen. 

Again he knocked. 

"What is that rappin' ? " said the sad voice 
with a startled tremor. 

"A friend," 

**What friend.?" 

" Chamberlain.'* 

•' It 's a lee. Chamberlain 's dead. Who are ye 
that 's been listening to a puir demented mon } 
Go yeer way, ye canna fule me." 

A sound came as if a rickety door were pushed 
aside. 

" Don't go ! " called Chamberlain, " I have 
something to say to you." 

"Tal it to the trees, whisper it to the chim- 
neys, sing it to the empty buildings. They all 



TAM'S SECRET. 1 73 



have ears, — they can hear, — they have voices, — 
they can answer." 

"Don't go. Tarn," he called. 

"Eh! Hoo do ye ken my name, eavesdropper.? 
Ye should be hanged by the ears!" returned the 
voice, and the sound of hasty footsteps echoed 
through the yard, and quiet again reigned. 

Feeling that it was of no use to stay longer, 
Chamberlain went his way, and ere long reached 
home. He had little time before daybreak to 
get even a nap, had he been in sleeping trim ; 
but the exciting events of the night, coupled 
with the sad occurrence of the day preceding, 
made him feel as if he should never be able to 
sleep again, although he was mortally weary. 
Partaking of a light breakfast, he went to the 
mill, where he found that the story of Temple's 
disgrace had gone the rounds. Most of the men 
assured all who spoke of it, and some who did 
not, that it was "just what they knew would 
come." Chamberlain fancied that even on the coun- 
tenance of the agent, there was an " I-told-you-so " 
expression. But the latter said nothing ; indeed of 
late, he had avoided even the morning nod 
with which he had formerly greeted the unwel- 
come novice. 

As for Chamberlain, the comments of the men 
fell on ears deadened by extreme fatigue, yet 



174 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

even with the weariness came the painful feel^ 
ing, that there were those who would perhaps 
never again "take stock in any sort of reform." 
With the energy which had become a part of 
his being, he determined that very noon to ex- 
plore the part of the factory adjoining the 
stone-cutters* sheds, and discover, if possible, who 
the sad Scotchman was. The monologue in which 
had figured names that few of the men in the 
factory used, gave an added mystery to the whole 
affair. Had the young man a superstitious 
nature, he might have supposed that a garrulous 
ghost had been voicing the thoughts of the 
past in some favorite retreat, and have consid- 
ered investigation in daylight to be useless 
from the outset. Such a thought never occurred 
to him, and he ate the lunch that Mrs. Bow- 
man had, under protest, substituted for a warm 
dinner, and started for the deserted rear yards. 
The surroundings of the works were of much 
greater magnitude than a casual observer would 
suppose. Our anxious explorer began to be aware 
of this, as after passing the long reaches of coal, 
in the great coal yards, he came to a second 
series of yards, where stood scores of empty 
freight cars, on tracks weed-grown and rails red 
with rust. Here and there, lounging in the 
shade of the cars, playing "forty-five," in quiet 



TAM'S SECRET. 175 



nooks, were his fellow-workmen. He received 
many a kindly nod, many a hearty invitation to 
join the various groups. Somehow the kindli- 
ness of his companions on this particular day 
specially touched him. It drove the loneliness out 
of his heart, in a measure, to know that the 
men respected and liked him. How much he 
could rely on this popularity in time of trouble, 
or how little it would take to turn these friendly 
ones into bitter enemies, was not the question. 
They liked him now, and that was a comfort. 
When he had reached the furthest limit of the 
freight yard he found himself shut away from 
further search by an extension of the same lofty 
spike-capped fence that held him off on the pre- 
ceding night. By what means access was gained 
to the special yard that he now desired to 
visit, he was not able exactly to recall. This 
was not in the least to be wondered at, as his 
first and only visit had taken place when he 
was but a novice in the manufactory, and so 
overcrowded with new sights and strange sur- 
roundings that distinct impressions of each were 
more than an ordinary mind could receive. 
With a faint recollection of entering a long 
building, which served as a gateway for this en- 
closure, he turned his attention to the sheds and 
houses in the vicinity. From the top of a box- 



1/6 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

car he was able to survey the chimneys of 
at least a dozen buildings on a line with the 
fence. Some of them he was familar with, 
while others were entirely strange. He was able 
finally to decide with tolerable certainty upon 
one that was probably the ** gate-house" to the 
secluded yard. With some difficulty he found this 
great barn-like structure, and was about to en- 
ter it and explore, when the "warning whistle" 
sounded, and he was forced to forego his inten- 
tion for that day, and return to his work. 

The next noon he renewed the attempt, and 
was on the spot ten minutes after the "speed" 
had shut down. The main door of the building 
was locked, an unusual thing, by the way, in 
the "empty yards," where nothing of value was 
stored, and Chamberlain was forced to use his 
ingenuity to gain entrance. Briefly surveying 
the doors and windows, he saw that one of the 
latter was fastened by a stick braced against 
the bottom sash in close proximity to a broken 
pane of glass. This not only afforded him a 
chance to get in, but it also gave him some 
information, for the stick that acted as fastening 
was soiled in the centre, its most convenient 
grasping place, and the sides of the sash were 
stained as if by grimy hands ; there were also 
boot-heel marks on the sill, as if some more 



TAM'S SECRET. ^77 



clumsy climbers had, with difficulty, entered in 
this way. The depth of the stains and the 
many heel-marks testified to the frequency with 
which this means . of ingress and egress were 

used. 

Unseen by any of his fellows. Chamberlain 
climbed into the great empty structure, and 
stood taking his bearings. The absence of 
stored goods or stock greatly facilitated a rapid 
survey of the one apartment. At first, even 
with this help, he could not see what communi- 
cation could be had with the further yard, but 
a closer inspection revealed a door which must 
have been open when he was there before. 
This yielded easily to his touch, and he found 
himself nearing the goal of his hopes. Once 
on the ground, the sights even when he was a 
novice— which, by the way, explained his admit- 
tance to a portion of the works from which 
most of the old hands were debarred, — came 
back to him. Here and there through the 
weeds that had grown up in wild luxuriance, 
ran paths that appeared to end nowhere in 
particular, and to be of no definite use. 

An air of desolation and decay was imparted 
to the whole place, by vines clambering over 
piles of rust-clad castings, forcing themselves 
through the spokes of broken cog-wheels as if 



1/8 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



to bind them forever to the earth, or clinging 
to the weather-worn buildings as though they 
would add even their feeble strength to the 
efforts of wind and weather to pull them down. 
A number of buildings, of stone and wood, 
stood in this yard, and as Chamberlain debated 
which first to examine, a step sounded on the 
pathway behind him, and turning quickly he was 
confronted by the watchman of that section. 

*' Look here, young feller ! What do you 
want in this part of the works?" he inquired 
roughly. 

**0h, I am just looking around," was the quiet 
reply. 

"Well, get right out. Orders is strict not to 
let nobody in here; been enough stealing done 
by you * piece hands'." 

" I did n't see anything to steal except a rusty 
boiler or two," said Chamberlain, good-humoredly. 

"Well, orders is orders, so git." 

"By the way, is Tam round here to-day.?" 
enquired Chamberlain, in a very ordinary voice. 

" Tam who } " was the query, without a trace 
of the consternation that was expected. 

"Why, Tam, the Scotchman." 

" He ain't been in here, whoever he is. You 
are the only one who has been here for weeks, 
and what possessed you I don't sec. I should 



TAAPS SECRET, 1/9 



never have known you were here, either, if 
you hadn't left that window open." 

Chamberlain mentally reproached himself for 
such carelessness, even while studying the 
expression of the man's face. It appeared to 
be perfectly honest, and he came to the con- 
clusion that the watchman knew nothing about 
the little Scotchman. 

"Don't let any of the fellers know that 
you 've been in here," said the man in parting. 
"Because if the boss gets wind of it he will 
bounce me." 

''All right, I won't mention it" 



l8o HIS OPPORTUNITY 



XIII. 

Wl)(2if • f l)e • €!l)urel) . 01 J • J^Q>^A • If. 

TiT was Wednesday evening. "Prayer-meeting 
st night," the elderly folk were wont to call it. 
The regular attendants, a few saintly mothers, 
one or two deacons, several elderly brethren, 
and half-a-score of sisters had already gathered 
in the vestry. On this particular occasion 
there were in addition numbers of others, whose 
faces were seldom seen in the house of God 
during the midweek. Their presence was due 
to the report that had gone forth, that there 
would be a "lively time*' at this meeting, and 
they had gathered to enjoy it. When the bell 
ceased tolling, the pastor read the Scriptures, 
offered prayer and gave out a hymn. During 
the latter exercise, the clock in the rear of the 
room struck the hour with painful distinctness, 
interrupting, as it always did, at the usual 
place. After singing, during which the cabinet 
organ lost its breath and was compelled to 



WHAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. l8l 

stop, the pastor made a few remarks. The 
meeting was then thrown open to the brethren. 

Brother Closson offered his every-meeting peti- 
tion, that they "all might be burnin' and shinin* 
lights." 

"Jes' so" Johnson spoke of the work among 
the Telegoos, and of the encouragement that it 
should he to all who were "in the service." 

Miss Ferguson began a verse, became con- 
fused, lost her reckoning, and her sister fin- 
ished it. 

Deacon Wilson spoke briefly and pointedly 
upon the subject contained in the chapter with 
which the meeting was opened. 

Everything had gone on as usual. Even the 
hymns were carefully started too high, and 
broken down on in the stereotyped way. 

All the dryness of an ordinary, dull meeting 
was present, yet a deep interest pervaded the 
room which had not been touched by exhortation 
or prayer. It lay outside of the accustomed 
speeches, and when the benediction was pro- 
nounced, and all members of the church had 
been requested to remain, it began to manifest 
itself. 

With reluctance and sorrow Mr. Snow began 
upon the subject. In a voice tremulous with 
suppressed emotion, he went over the brief 



1*2 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

career of John Temple since he had come under 
the notice of the church. He spoke of the 
/oung man's apparent sincerity, of his humility, 
and his dependence on a Higher Power. He 
was aware, he said, that many in the congrega- 
tion wondered that one who promised so well 
should, on the very afternoon of his admission 
to the Church of Christ, have gone back to his 
sins. It was a calamity, not alone to the 
sufferer, but also to every Christian there. It 
would cause the enemies of Christ to rejoice, 
and would discourage the weaker Christians. 
Many of the unsaved, who had watched with a 
ray of hope the progress of the convert, would 
believe that it was all a sham, — that there was 
no salvation from the power of drink. 

"In this emergency," continued the pastor, 
"it behooves the church to do something. It 
is her duty to remove the stumbling-block by 
which this man, our brother, fell. And lest 
there be misunderstanding, let me relate exactly 
how his fall came about. He believed, with 
the rest of us, that he was saved from a most 
terrible appetite for strong drink. Since his 
conversion, no drop had passed his lips. His 
taste for liquor was not taken away, but the 
Lord gave him grace to overcome it. He felt 
his own weakness, and by constant prayer and 



WHAT 7 HE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. 1 83 

careful avoidance of places of temptation, he was 
kept from falling. This church, through its 
most sacred ordinance, that of communion, 
placed the temptation in the hands of the 
unhappy man. We served him with the alcohol 
for which he had the horrible thirst, and when 
once it was tasted all strength for resistance 
was gone. We are guilty, — ignorantly, without 
doubt, but guilty. At the table of the Lord 
we have furnished poison. We have caused a 
brother to fall, to plunge into a whirlpool of 
excess, to flee away, in a mad debauch, where, 
none knows but the All-pitying One. How 
shall we atone ? " 

The pastor ceased speaking, and for several 
moments a hush reigned in the room. At 
length Deacon Wilson rose. He was known as 
a thorough, perhaps a fanatical, temperance 
man. 

"It seems to me," he said, with feeling, 
"that this lesson from the Lord should be a 
profit to us. Other churches have been awake 
on this subject. Several, to my knowledge, 
have adopted non-alcoholic wine at their com- 
munion service. Why should not we at once 
do the same ? " 

"This meeting has been called as a regular 
church business meeting, and the question can 



1 84 ms OPPORTUNITY. 

be settled here and now," said the pastor. 
"We await a motion." 

"I would move that non-intoxicating wine be 
hereafter used at our church communion," said 
Deacon Wilson. 

** Second the motion," said one of the sisters. 

At this juncture a handsome, portly gentleman 
of fifty or over, who had been sitting quietly 
in the rear of the room, rose and went for- 
ward, taking a position where the audience 
could see his every motion. It was customary 
there for speakers to address the congregation 
from whatever part of the room they had been 
sitting. This movement, therefore, arrested the 
attention of all. In a deep, mellow voice, in 
accents that showed culture, he began. He 
said he believed that a church that followed 
closely in the footsteps of the Master could not 
fall far short of its whole duty. With tender 
reverence he described the last supper, the 
eating of bread, the drinking of the cup. 

"Now," said he, in conclusion, "I deplore 
deeply the sad event that has occurred, but let 
us not charge ourselves with it, for in this 
case we are blameless. We have done as 
Christ commanded. The young man fell, not 
because of the communion service, but because 
he did not use the will that God gave him. 



WffAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT, 185 

Would not our action in substituting some other 
liquid for the divinely ordered wine be a criti- 
cism upon the action of the Master ? Would 
not, also, the beauty and completeness of the 
service be sacrificed, were we to lay rude hands 
upon it ? " 

The gentleman sat down, and there was no 
reply to his words. Even Deacon Wilson 
appeared loth to enter into controversy with 
him, and it looked as if, as is the case in 
many places, the mere presence of a great 
man was going to shut the mouths of all who 
did not exactly agree with him. Cham- 
berlain, however, with all his sorrow for 
Temple, and an unavoidable sense of humiliation 
when he knew that many would put him into 
the same category, felt the old spirit of debate 
taking possession of him, and noting the weak 
points in the other's address, rose. 

There was a rustle of interest and a subse- 
quent hush as his first words fell on the ears 
of the listeners. 

"Mr. Temple was my friend," he said slowly. 
"I was with him the evening he gave his heart 
to the Saviour. It was that night that I, also, 
was born into the kingdom. The hopes and 
the fears, the honest, earnest love for the 
Saviour, the consuming desire to lead others to 



1 86 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

Him, that Temple possessed, were not hid from 
me. I knew of them all, and rejoiced in them. 
I remember that several times my friend came 
to me and said, with an inexpressible thrill of 
joy in his voice, * I am so happy. What a 
wonderful, glorious Saviour, to have forgiven me.' 
The men in the file-works knew of his former 
drinking habits, of his previous efforts at reform, 
and of his failures, and were watching him with 
interest. It will be a great disappointment to 
some of them^ for there are, I believe, hearts 
there that are dimly yearning for salvation. 
There is but one power that can hinder this 
from being a great damage to them. That it 
will be overruled, I believe. 

"If, however, we know the cause of the sad 
"fall ; if, as our pastor says, it was due to the 
alcohol in the communion wine, it seems as if 
it had been given directly to this church for a 
lesson. Paul said he would eat no more meat 
while the world stood, if the eating of meat 
caused his brother to stumble. And is not that 
the spirit of the Gospel from beginning to end.? 
Our brother thinks we should follow literally 
every move of the Master at the last supper. 
Should we not, then, always gather in an upper 
room? Should we not partake of unleavened 
bread? Should not those who break the bread 



Wf/AT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT, 1 87 



and 1 our the cup, be also girded with towels, 
and wash the disciples' feet ? Perhaps I am 
wrong, but I believe the spij^it of the ordinance 
is what the Lord wishes, and not the letter. 
*In remembrance of Him..' Would it not be a 
closer, more loving remembrance of Him, than 
we could possibly arrive at otherwise, if we sub- 
stituted for the alcoholic wine, the pure juice of 
the grape, and in that way removed cause for 
stumbling from the path of the weak.^ In doing 
this let us not think that we are stooping to 
help Steep Street and the mill folk, and that 
we are above such temptation, for I recall 
another 5uch case, coming to the honored head 
of a wealthy family in New York. Any one 
who has dallied with this fearful temptation is 
in danger, and those who most scornfully scout 
the idea are most in peril." 

Before this speech was finished the gentleman 
took out his watch, looked at it, closed it with 
a snap, rose slowly, and passed out. When the 
door had closed behind him, and Chamberlain 
had seated himself, the pastor put the question, 
and, thanks to the sisters present, who all voted 
on the right side, the victory was won. The 
North Church would no more put temptation to 
the lips of her children. The pastor overtook 
Chamberlain as he was going home. 



1 88 HIS OPPORTUNTTr. 

"I want you to join me in prayer for Tem- 
ple," he said. "I cannot believe that he will 
be lost. I think this church is guilty, and, as 
her pastor, I feel the burden of this guilt resting 
very heavily upon me. The Lord has said: 
*If two of you are agreed as touching any thing, 
it shall be done.' Now I most heartily believe 
that, and I propose that you and I test it, — 
that we prove the Lord." 

Kneeling by the roadside, they prayed, and 
rose with a feeling that their prayers were 
heard, and an assurance that they would be 
answered. 

"There is another burden that I am bearing 
before the Lord," said Mr. Snow, with some 
hesitation, "and one that I wish you might 
share. It is the case of the gentleman who 
rose and left the room while you were speaking ; 
perhaps you noticed him ? " 

" I did ; who was he } " 

"Mr. Whitney," was the reply, and Chamber- 
lain knew that his opponent in the evening's 
debate was the father of Miriam. 

"Why did he leave the room so abruptly.' 
Was it because he saw that the case was going 
against him 1 " 

" I do ntjt think so ; I am aware that it 
looked much like it, but he has many business 



WHAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT, 1 89 

cares, and attended this meeting when he could 
really ill afford the time. That I know. The 
people of this congregation are somewhat in fear 
of him, as he has a remarkable insight into 
character, and does not hesitate to condemn 
fraud wherever seen. He is the soul of inde- 
pendence, thinks and acts for himself, and asks 
no one's advice. What he said in the meeting 
was his honest opinion. If he ever changes, 
he will just as honestly acknowledge it." 

"I am glad to know that. He is a noble- 
looking man, and it troubled me to think that 
his action might be caused by a petty chagrin," 
said Chamberlain. 

**And now, my brother, what is the feeling in 
the mill toward the great question } What think 
the men of Christ 1 You are near to their 
hearts. It is said that you are popular among 
them. If so, you should be able to put your 
finger on their religious pulse and tell just how 
it beats. Brother Lamson tells me they are 
totally indifferent. He does not appear to be as 
sanguine in seeing opportunities to do these 
people good as I could wish, but he is cumbered 
with many worldly cares. What do you think 
of the outlook for a religious awakening in the 
mill village.?" 

**I think that while the men have such an 



1 90 fflS OPPORTUNITY, 

exarrple as Deacon Lamson daily before them, 
they will be exceedingly slow to embrace his 
leligion," was the hot reply. 

"The unfaithfulness of one man does not in any 
way do away with the question of one's personal 
responsibility before God," was the solemn reply. 

" Of course not." 

"Without doubt, Lamson is worldly. How 
many of us are entirely free from it? He is 
also stern and dignified toward those in his 
employ. I could wish that he took a deeper 
interest in the young men under his care, but 
his probity is unquestioned, and he lives up to 
the letter of his profession. Do you not think 
so.?" 

"I should be exceedingly glad it if were so," 
replied Chamberlain. 

"Now my dear young friend," said the pastor, 
"remember it is a very serious thing in any 
way to pass judgment on a fellow laborer in the 
Lord's vineyard, and I would caution you to ex- 
amine your own heart carefully before God, and 
see if this dislike does not in some way spring 
from some earthly or worldly desire in your- 
self." 

"I don't know how it could. What I have 
seen in no way touches me individually," was 
the surprised reply. 



W//AT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. IQI 

"Let us suppose a case. A young man, bright 
and intelligent, through stress of circumstances 
is forced to enter a factory to earn his livelihood. 
He is superior in birth and education to his 
companions and is aware of it, although he is 
not conceited. He expects to be rapidly ad- 
vanced, especially as he is very faithful in the 
performance of his duties. In addition to this, 
he joins a church, the same in which the owner 
of the factory is a leading member. He has no 
thought that this will in any way advance him 
temporally, yet the coldness with which the 
owner, his brother in Christ, treats him, leads 
him, in a measure, to misjudge and dislike him. 
Now I will not defend the mill owner in his 
coldness and his failure to recognize true merit, 
but is the young man fitted to calmly pass judg- 
ment on him as a man and a Christian.^ Will 
there not be a little of envy and disappointment 
intermixed with his estimate of that man?" 

Chamberlain laughed a hearty, jolly laugh, and 
the pastor joined him. 

"Am I not right.!*" he said delightedly, "does 
not the cap fit, my brother.? Come you are too 
honest a man to deny it when you are fairly 
caught." 

" You have n't hit it," was the reply, with a 
very broad sqjile. "There is no advancement 



192 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



that Lamson can give me that I covet. I have 
ambitions but he cannot help them on. If I 
could tell them to any one, it would be to you. 
But seriously and honestly, I never expected, 
never wished, and would not accept the best place 
Lamson could give me." 

"Would you not accept more remunerative em- 
ployment?" asked the pastor, with an air of 
deep disappointment. 

" No, decidedly not." Was the positive reply. 

"I am sorry. I thought I had the key to 
the whole problem, and had made up my mind 
to influence Brother Lamson to accept you as 
a protegd" 

"Pray do nothing of the kind. I am aware 
it is a strange statement to make for a * piece 
hand,' a day laborer, but I am perfectly satisfied, 
and by being allowed to go my own way, will 
sooner accomplish my ambitions than any other 
way." 

"Is the Lord Jesus Christ with you in these 
ambitions.?" Asked Mr. Snow with a piercing 
look, 

"He is," was the reverent reply. 

"Then I am satisfied. Yet I am loth to give 
up my wish to serve you; young men are far 
too apt to underrate the advantages that may 
accrue to them through the influence of friends." 



WHAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. 193 

** There are others in the mill who deserve 
promotion, and when you become acquainted with 
them they will be delighted beyond measure to 
have their merits recognized. I am very grate- 
ful, but it is out of the question for me to 
wish for any advancement that Mr. Lamson 
could proffer." 

The good man stood for a few minutes in 
deep thought, while Chamberlain waited respect- 
fully for him to wholly ease his mind of the 
cares and plans for the mill folks and himself. 
At length he said, 

"Speaking of Brother Lamson, although you 
have made no specific charges against him, I 
can see that you feel that he is not in the right 
place, or to put it more frankly, that he is a 
hypocrite. In that, I am certain you are mis- 
taken. As your pastor, as well as his, I want 
to ask you after prayer for guidance, to go to 
him and have an honest, earnest talk with him. 
Whatever you may have against him state fully 
and clearly, provided it be any thing in which he 
is at fault and that touches you. If there is 
any thing that after careful weighing you find is 
any of your business, go and talk with him, and 
I am sure he will meet you kindly and willingly, 
and rectify whatever wrong he may intentionally 
or unintentionally have done." 



194 HIS OPPORl UNITY, 

"You are still of the opinion that a part of 
my dislike springs from wounded personal van- 
ity ? " inquired Chamberlain. 

"My brother," was the reply, "I have known 
many men, and been able to settle many dif- 
ferences among members of my church, and 
few there are of the best, but have full as 
much personal pride as their profession will 
bear." 

When the good-nights had been said and 
Chamberlain had started for home, he found that 
he had promised to call upon the lawyer and 
talk with him. Looking at the whole affair from 
the pastor's stand-point, he wondered that such 
a course should have been advised, for the latter 
supposed him to be but a workman. Just what 
his feelings toward the agent might be at that 
moment, he could hardly tell. There was a bare 
possibility that the man might be misunderstood 
by the people of the village. He had known 
of cases where an aristocrat of the strictest prob- 
ity and unimpeachable character had been hated 
and maligned by the menials in his employ, 
till some of the falsehoods were actually believed 
and were widely circulated. Lam son had in 
many ways striven to hinder him, but that might 
be from a mere petty jealousy which was very 
far removed from real criminality. Even now the 



WHAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. 1 95 



man might be ashamed of it. The case did not 
look quite so black from this manner of viewing 
it as it did from the other, and Chamberlain re""- 
solved at all events to give him a chance to 
clear himself. 



1 9^ HIS OPPORTUNITY, 



XIV. 

H^orrj s • I\e0uesf . 

^^i^AN I see Mr. Lamson?" 

^^ "What name, sir?" asked the servant. 

"Chamberlain," was the reply. 

"I will see." 

Sitting in the elegantly furnished parlor of 
the Lamson house, the visitor looked about with 
some curiosity. He had an idea that a bachelor 
was likely when furnishing his apartments, in a 
measure to express his own individuality. Yet 
nothing Lamsonian appeared in this room. There 
was no hint at vulgarity, no approach to coarse- 
ness; on the contrary it was furnished with 
care and delicate taste. He marveled a trifle 
at this, till he remembered having heard of the 
mother of the lawyer, a quiet, silver-haired, 
sweet-faced lady, whom all loved. This was 
quite a relief, and the remembrance, rescued with 
difficulty from oblivion, became a positive recol- 
lectioD. "Lamson's mother 1" The more he 



TOM'S REQUEST, IQ/ 



reflected, the more he wondered if she, with 
the usual mother-blindness, adored her son. It 
was strange what an influence the knowledge 
that this man had a mother, had upon Cham- 
berlain. His animosity seemed to lose its edge. 
The fact that one person loved Lamson, even 
though he might be unworthy, placed him in a 
new light, and raised him to a higher grade. 
Just then his name was spoken, and the sub- 
\ect of his thoughts stood before him. 

"Glad to see you. Chamberlain," he said cor- 
dially. "Have you at last decided to allow 
yourself an evening's relaxation ? I verily be- 
lieve you are the hardest worker in the 
shops." 

"Oh, no, there are many who do more than 
I. My self-denial, in the way of society pleas- 
ures, has been forced, as you must acknowledge. 
I enjoy such life too well to be without it oth- 
erwise." 

"I hear good reports of you from the work- 
men," continued the agent. "With one voice, 
they say that you are one of the best men we 
have yet had, and that your mastery of the dif- 
ferent processes of file-making, is rapid and ac- 
curate." 

"Thank you," was the reply; a flush of pleas- 
urc stealing into the brown cheeks. " I aro 



19^ HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

glad that they think so. Their praise is to bt 
valued." 

"It is, indeed," was the hearty reply. 

"My errand here, this evening," said Cham- 
berlain, was with reference to Temple." 

" Oh," said Lamson, with an impenetrable 
look. 

"He, as you know, perhaps, leased a room dh 
Steep Street, and started a small store." 

"Yes." 

"It was to be a temperance grocery store, 
where, all who wished, could purchase goods 
without having liquors thrust under their noses. 
Of course this would be an injury to Pfaff, but 
every Christian I have yet met has thus far 
acknowledged that he is a nuisance. The fact 
is, the time has come when that liquor shop in 
the lower village ought to be closed." 

"Mr. Chamberlain," said Lamson, with an 
appearance of sincerity, " you have spoken • of 
something that has long worried me. Pfaff is 
a nuisance. His rum-shop ought to be shut 
up, and, were it possible, should be. But my 
hands are tied." 

Surprised at the unequivocal condemnation of 
the man whom he was said secretly to uphold, 
Chamberlain was silent, and Lamson went on. 
"Your uncle, Robert Flint, was, in many re« 



TOM'S REQUEST. 1 99 



spects, a strange man. Whatever he did, he 
never would MxiAo. Whatever he said, he stuck 
to. Pfaff saved his life, when he was in some 
desperate danger in the mill, long years ago, and 
he never forgot it. He promised the man 
any thing, almost, that he might ask, and, like 
a wily fellow that he was, the German asked 
for a life-lease of the building in which his 
business is situated, and to be allowed to sell 
liquor as long as he wished." 

"And it was given him.^" 

"Certainly. And not only that, but Mr. Flint 
made me promise in no way to restrict him in 
the full use of his privileges. You can see 
how I am placed. I cannot, and will not, break 
my word. It will be impossible for any one to 
dislodge him, for, as I have said, he holds a 
life-lease. He it is who has been, and is, 
dragging Steep Street down to bitter and lasting 
wretchedness. What can be done is more than 
[ can tell. Can you solve this problem } " 

Chamberlain pondered. The facts cited by the 
agent, if they were facts, put things in an 
entirely new light. Might not his, and, indeed, 
the general, impression of Lamson be wrong.? 
Those who did not know of the life-lease, and 
the promise, would be likely to condemn the 
agent for the sin that he was, apparently, party 



zoo HIS OPPOR TUNITY. 

to. People in the upper settlement trusted and 
honored him. He had been chosen deacon. 
Was not the vulgar prejudice a mistaken one } 
Lamson waited, and allowed the leaven of his 
words to work in the young man's mind. 

"Mr. Lamson," said he, finally, "I wish to beg 
your pardon for having doubted you. We are 
both members of the same church. We are 
disciples of the same Master. I have wronged 
you in my thoughts, on this subject, which you 
would have explained, had I asked you. Will 
you pardon me .? " 

" Do not speak of it," was the hearty response. 
"You were right in condemning me, if, as you 
thought, I could have dislodged Pfaff. Let us 
forget it. I have vindicated myself, and we at 
last understand one another." 

"You were asking," continued Chamberlain, 
"what could be done to solve this problem. I 
have studied it, and two things are suggested 
to me. One is, to give the people of the street 
good drinking water, and the other is, to estab- 
lish a rival store that shall draw as much trade 
as possible away from the liquor-shop." 

"Very good, if they were practicable, but I 
fear neither is," was the reply, with an intona- 
tion of regret. 

" I do not agree with you. They both are 



TOM*S REQUEST. 201 



feasible. For instance, good water can be struck 
on the plateau' just above the street/' returned 
the young man, warming up to a defense of his 
plans. 

" All the land there is owned by parties who 
are at enmity with the file-company. Miss 
Whittier would sooner burn her house than sell 
a foot of her land. Besides, the water there 
would have the same impregnation that all the 
welis in the vicinity possess." 

"I am sure you will be glad to know you 
are wrong. A driven well is already finished 
on the other side of Miss Whittier's fence, and 
flows pure, cold water enough to supply all 
Steep Street, and the mill also,** was the quick 
reply. 

Lamson*s face darkened. Chamberlain did not 
notice it, but went on to describe the advantages 
that would ensue from such a well, assured that 
the agent, although conservative, was with him. 

" How is the water to be got to them ? " he 
asked. 

" By pipes running into each house. It would 
cost but a trifling sum, and what a blessing it 
would be ! *' 

Lamson shook his head as if in deep thought. 

" Just now," he said slowly, " I am afraid wc 
cannot afford to put out any money on piping. 



202 ff/s OPPORTUNITY. 

I wish we might. The project is a good one. 

II is yours, I suppose?" 

" Yes," said Chamberlain, with genuine pride, 
which displayed itself in his voice, and was 
noticed by Lamson. 

" It is a noble thought, and no doubt cost you 
considerable, or did Miss Whittier assume the 
expense," he continued. 

'^ did it." 

Again the face of the agent assumed its 
cloud. Chamberlain, seeing it, laid it to deep 
thought, and mentally rejoiced that at last he 
had found Lamson so willing to plan for the 
prosperity of Steep Street. 

" I believe I can see your hand in the new 
store, also," said the agent, with a sharp glance. 

"That was Temple's thought. I only furnished 
the money." 

Lamson shaded his face and sat for a few 
moments in deep thought. 

"I suppose," he said, "you would like to have 
that continued ? " 

"I should." 

"Have you any one in mind to run it?" 

" I have not," was the reply. 

" I believe I know a man who would be just 
the one wanted," averred Lamson. "He lives in 
a neighboring town. I will drop him a line, 



TOM'S REQUEST. 203 



and, if you wish, he will call and see you within 
a day or two. Until then, if I were you, I 
should keep the place shut." 

" Thank you," said Chamberlain, greatly re- 
lieved. " I have been puzzled to know whom to 
put there. Your help will come in just the 
right time." 

Swayed by the candid confessions of the law- 
yer, Chamberlain went away sure that the general 
impression among the help, that Lamson was a 
rascal and a hypocrite, was without foundation. 
As it happened, something occurred that very 
evening that led him further to believe in his 
innocence as regarded all such charges. Across 
the river, just on the edge of the mill-dam, 
leading from the factory-yard to the Steep-street 
side, ran a foot-bridge. It was a frail structure, 
and but little used, except by the "water-gate 
tender " in his trips to raise or lower the 
"flash-boards." In his determination to become 
acquainted with all parts of the vast mill estate. 
Chamberlain had often passed over this foot- 
bridge. The factory-buildings adjacent to it were 
most of them windowless, while the ample yards 
were shut in by lofty fences, making it possible 
for one standing on this bridge to be as much 
alone as if miles away from human habitation. 

The waterfall, upon the edge of which the 



204 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

bridge clung, tumbled down over a series of 
rough granite steps, throwing the sj ray high in 
the air, and wetting the branches of the maples 
and elms that grew, not alone on either side, 
but also on a narrow island strip in mid-stream, 
extending close up to the dam. This rocky 
island, its sides constantly fretted by the surging 
waters, its phalanx of trees, ever narrowing, till 
they stood almost in single file at the foot of 
the dam, was, to Chamberlain's eyes, a spot of 
rare beauty. When the mill was not running 
the waters thundered over the dam, sometimes 
sweeping over the island, bending down the 
underbrush, loosening the boulders, and causing 
even the sturdy trees to quiver and shake. 
During work-hours, the side-canals drew off the 
surplus water, and only narrow threads of silver 
splashed over and ran across the rapidly-drying 
rocks. 

On the evening in question the young man 
had wandered to this spot and stood now in his 
favorite attitude, leaning against the railing and 
looking down into the empty river-bed. Ab- 
sorbed in thought, he did not notice that the 
railing, pressed by his weight, was slowly yield- 
ing. When at length, it suddenly snapped and 
broke, ere he could recover himself, he was 
precipitated into the mass of tree-tops that 



TOM'S REQUEST. 205 

reached up toward him from the little island. 
Fortunate for him it was, that they were bound 
together by luxuriant grape-vines, that the 
branches were green and thrifty, and that so 
much intervened to break the fall. As it was, 
dizzy, bewildered, stunned, he reached the ground 
without serious injury. Upon attempting to rise 
he found himself in a curious predicament. The 
great oak, into whose friendly arms he had fallen, 
had as its neighbor a thrifty young beech. 
Wedged between the two, his ankle firmly caught 
in a rock-crevice. Chamberlain found he could 
not get up unassisted. The distance between the 
two trees was enough to admit of his moving 
freely, yet held him too tightly to allow him to 
release his prisoned foot. In vain he writhed 
and squirmed, using his strength, skill, ingenuity. 
All were alike useless. 

With no little difficulty, he looked at his 
watch, which was still running, in spite of the 
shaking up it had received, and discovered 
that it wanted but five minutes of whistle-time. 
At six, the canal-gates would be shut, and the 
water would again thunder over the dam. The 
very place where he lay, had been for the past 
few days swept by an angry torrent, swelled by 
recent rains. There was little probability that 
the water had lowered enough to make it safe. 



206 ffiS OPPORTUmTY. 

The dampness of the ground and the tree-trunks 
proved that during the brief noon-hour, the 
place where he lay had been water-swept. The 
steady roar of the machinery would soon give 
place to the thunder of the waterfall, and neither 
would allow his voice to be heard. The case 
looked serious. There was a bare possibility that 
the water-gate man might cross the bridge and 
might rescue him, but it was a chance in a thou- 
sand. One-half the time had already gone swift- 
winged, and he was listening with nervous ap- 
prehension for the clanking of the gate-chains, 
when looking up he saw a man walking leisurely 
across the foot-bridge. How his heart beat with 
hope and fear ! Nearer came the stranger, and 
he raised his voice and cried, " Help ! help ! " 
But the clattering and clanging and roaring of 
the mills drove the sound away from the friendly 
ears. Again he cried, and again with the same 
result. The gentleman walked quietly on, and 
was passing the place of the accident, when he 
noticed the broken rail. With a gesture of sur- 
prise, he peered down into the river-bed, and at 
once saw Chamberlain looking up to him with 
all the eloquence of appeal that a youth threat- 
ened with a horrible death could express in a 
look. 

When Chamberlain saw who it was, as he did 



rOM*S REQUEST. 20'j 



in a second glance, his heart sank within him, 
fo\ he encountered the steel-blue eyes of Lam 
son. Why should he have been so disappointed 
that it was not some rough workman, or even 
some enemy, instead of the polite lawyer? Per- 
haps this was because he thought that, were he 
ever so anxious, he would not possess the faculty 
for a quick rescue, or possibly he had not yet 
laid aside his deep-rooted distrust. At all events 
it was a most shocking disappointment when he 
discovered that his only hope of help lay in this 
man in faultless broadcloth. Even in the great- 
est extremity one is impressed by the most 
trivial things, and as Chamberlain looked up and 
saw the broad expanse of spotless linen, and the 
rays of the summer-sun struck full on the dia- 
mond shirt-stud, he was almost in despair. But 
Lamson did not stand idly regarding him. He 
called down some sentence which might have 
been encouraging or otherwise, so mangled were 
the words by the din of the trip-hammers, and 
then darted back to the factory. That he could 
run, the young man had never imagined, for the 
pompous walk had ever seemed a part of his 
personality. Soon Lamson reappeared with a long 
rope, which, with almost incredible deftness, he 
made fast to the planks of the foot-bridge and 
then threw down. So sure was the cast that the 



20S HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

young man laid hold of it, but was even then 
not able to extricate himself. 

"Send down one of the men/' he called aftei 
a violent effort. But Lamson had no such 
thought. Already the clanking of the gate-chains 
had ceased, and a great silence fallen over the 
river-valley. From the street on the further 
side of the factory now came the shouts and 
laughter of the thronging operatives, striking 
with a startling distinctness on the ear of the 
imprisoned man at the foot of the fall. With so 
much of help so near, and yet to be unable to 
take any advantage of it, was like starving in the 
midst of plenty. Already the brimming pond 
had begun to overflow, and where there had a 
moment before been but a few small jets of 
water, were now constantly growing streams. A 
few minutes* delay would serve to settle the 
matter. 

Bound down as he was, Chamberlain knew 
that he could not, by any possibility, keep his 
head above even a shallow stream. Meanwhile, 
in a sort of doubting stupor, he beheld Lamson 
strip off coat and vest and shoes, and swing 
himself over the edge of the dam. Not until 
after a quick, agile scramble over the slimy 
rocks, and he stood by his side, did he com- 
prehend that he would actually risk so much 



TOM'S REQUEST. 209 



for any one. Yet now he stood over him, his 
face flushed with the unusual exertion, the 
knees of his pants green with rock-slime, his 
stockings wet and torn. Without a word he set 
at work to loosen the cloven rock that held the 
ankle captive, and after a little prying and 
pounding, it gave way and rolled into the turgid 
stream that had already wet the foot through 
and through. With the assistance of the strong 
hand, — its firmness and strength impressed the 
rescued man with great surprise, — he arose. 

"We must be quick unless we wish to climb 
these trees and stay all night," said the agent. 
"Are you hurt.? Think with a little help you 
can go up the rope } " 

"Yes, indeed! Go ahead, and I'll follow," 
said Chamberlain, again grasping the outstretched 
hand. 

'*0h, no," was the laughing reply. "I came 
down here after you. I am strong and well. 
You may be badly hurt without knowing it. It 
is wiser for you to go first." 

Recognizing the good sense in this, Chamber- 
lain acquiesced, and in the face of a fine sheet 
of water, with a broad stream falling on each 
side, the two men began the ascent. The rocks, 
grown more slippery than ever, afforded a most 
insecure footing, and the lir seemed full of fall- 



210 HIS OPPORTUmTY, 

ing water. In an instant they were drenched. 
Chamberlain, still dizzy from his fall, several 
times swung off from his feet, but the strong 
arm of the agent helped him back. As they 
neared the edge of the fall, the stream of 
water grew denser, and now fell steadily over 
them, and seemed to have the weight of hun- 
dreds of pounds. When, at last, they stood on 
the narrow foot-bridge, Lamson shook the water 
from himself like a shaggy water-dog, and said, 
jovially, — 

"This makes me ten years younger. I 
declare, shower-baths agree with me first- 
rate." 

" I wish I could express my gratitude. You 
have saved my life. I shall not soon forget it," 
said the rescued man with feeling. 

" Nonsense ! Do the same for me when I get 
in a similar fix, and it will be all right," was the 
careless answer. "Now, you must hurry home. 
I am sorry that I can't go with you, but I 
think as long as your ankle does not appear to 
be sprained, and you have no broken bones, the 
exercise of walking will not hurt you. Good 
luck, and don't try to emulate Sam Patch any 
more, by jumping over falls." 

With a quick step and a parting wave of the 
hand, the agent walked rapidly away, and Cham- 



TOArs REQUEST. 211 



berlain started in the opposite direction, his 
warm heart overflowing with gratitude toward 
his deliverer, and a strong resolution never again 
to doubt a man who could show himself at onoe 
so brave and so capable. 



212 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



XV. 

Yer)r)is • Gtr)d • Y<2'ir)pei»Gtr)ce. 

^^"g AM. sure, Master Tom, they would be very 

f glad to have you join them," said old Al- 
lan, earnestly. 

"It would do me good to have a game, but 
file-grinders are not apt to be up in such arts." 

"They will never suspect. How should they? 
Has not any young man in this country a 
right to excel in any game ? Let me introduce 
you to them." 

"No," was the decided reply. "It was foolish 
for me to think of such a thing. I will not in- 
trude. They are having a jolly time; why should 
it be marred by the presence of a laborer? I 
know how they feel." 

The old gardener did not reply, but the ex- 
pression on his face said plainly that no one 
could, for an instant, think Miss Alice's boy an 
mtruder. 



TENmS AND TEMPERANCE, 213 

The two speakers were in the garden, behind 
a half-hedge of hollyhocks, looking over at the 
beautiful lawn in front of the Flint mansion 
There, three persons were playing tennis. One. 
of them was Miss Whitney; the other two, a 
young lady and a gentleman, were strangers. 
They had obtained permission from Lamson to 
use the grounds, and now were enjoying theii 
liberty to the utmost. At length Miss Whitney 
dropped her racquet and strolled away through 
the garden. The other two, who were evidently 
lovers, seemed not at all loth to have her de- 
part, for they at once seated themselves on a 
rustic bench and engaged in earnest conversa- 
tion. 

From behind the hollyhocks. Chamberlain 
watched the fair girl, as she slowly approached. 
With unconscious grace she moved over the 
close-cropped grass, toward the spot where stood 
the gardener. The old man had, as usual, begun 
to prune and pet his plants, and, in so do- 
ing, had stepped from behind the screen of 
plants and now was in plain sight. 

**0h, Allan," she said, with the freedom of 
an old acquaintance, "why aren't you a young 
man.? A nice-looking, agreeable young man? I 
need one this afternoon." 

The gardener's eyes twinkled. 



214 ffIS OPI^RTUNITY, 

** You want one to play tennis with ? '* he 
asked. 

" Yes. Cousin Harvey and Kate are so aw- 
fully dull. They do such bare-faced cheating in 
favor of one another that it is impossible to 
beat them. Can you not change one of these 
hollyhocks into a youth, tall and fair, who shall 
be my partner and help me win a game ? " 

"Master Tom," said Allan, turning toward 
him, "fortune favors you.*' 

Somewhat embarrassed. Chamberlain stepped 
forward, hat in hand, and made a polite bow. 

"Pray consider me a transformed hollyhock," he 
said. 

A wave of crimson swept over the young 
lady's face. 

"I beg pardon," she said, with just a tinge 
of iciness ; " I had no idea that any one, be- 
sides the gardener, was present." 

" Master Tom is just the one to fill out the 
game ; he is a crack player," remarked Allan. 

" Do you play tennis, Mr. Chamberlain ? " 
asked Miriam, with some surprise. 

" I have played," was his modest reply. 

Miss Whitney hesitated a moment, then 
said, — 

" I should be very glad to have you join us 
in a game, and, ohl" she continued, gaining 



TE//NIS AND TEMPERANCE. 215 

enthusiasm, " do let us beat Harvey and 
Kate !" 

Crossing the lawn, he was introduced, and the 
game began. Harvey was no poor player, and 
when he found that Chamberlain was not a nov- 
ice, a new interest lighted his eyes, and he dropped 
his listlessness and entered into the game in the 
heartiest way imaginable. With the stimulus 
of Miriam Whitney's energetic admonition to 
**be sure and beat," he played well, perhaps 
better than he ever had before; so well, that at 
the end of the game, his partner was clapping 
her hands at the rueful looks of Harvey and 
Kate, for they were badly worsted. 

" You play elegantly, Mr. Chamberlain ; better 
than any young man in town. What couldn't 
you do at tennis, if only you practised 1 " she 
exclaimed. 

The impersonal way in which she spoke this, 
the enthusiasm over the game thai made her 
forget all in rejoicing, pleased him greatly. He 
liked sincerity, and the pleasure expressed by 
Miss Whitney was genuine. For the time be- 
ing he felt proud and happy, and determined, 
if they played again, to do even better than 
before. 

Harvey, CHamberlain's opponent in the game, 
was a fine /oung fellow, fresh from West Point, 



2l6 ff/s OPPORTUNITY 

and with all the taking ways of a genuine cadet. 
He was frank and boyish, and, at the same time, 
dignified. 

" Are you summering here ? " asked Harvey. 

"No, I work in the file-shops," replied Cham- 
berlain. 

** Oh,** said Harvey, with a surprised air. 

** Bookkeeping ? ** asked the young man, after 
a pause. 

" Oh, no ; I am just now in the foundry- 
room.*' 

*' Pretty hard work, isn't it?" asked Harvey. 

" Yes, it is ; but I think it a very healthful 
life. There is no class of men that I am ac- 
quainted with, who are so universally strong and 
free from sickness, as are the foundry-men." 

** Awful hard drinkers," returned the cadet. 

"Some of them." 

"What sticks me is, why a laborer can't 
drink without making a beast of himself. Now 
you can pick out dozens of gentlemen, who 
drink for a life-time, and never lose their bal- 
ance." 

" My experience has been, that liquor demoral- 
izes a gentleman even more than a laborer," 
replied Chamberlain. 

" Why, hang it all, excuse me, but I mean 
tbo- real, blue-blooded gentlemen, and — you know 



TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 21/ 

— perhaps you may not have had a chance to 
be with them much." 

Ilarvey blurted this out, growing very red, and 
trusting to the sincerity and good-heartedness 
with which it was spoken, to ward off offense. 

" Possibly not," replied the other, with an as- 
sured smile ; " but let us take a case in hand. 

You would call our Senator M a blue-blooded 

gentleman ? " 

*'Yes." 

" I sav/ him three years ago last winter, in 
Washington, carried to his room by two porters, 
drunk. He certainly looked more demoralized 
than a red-shirted workman would have appeared 
in the same case. His tall hat was muddy and 
jammed ; his gold eye-glasses were broken, and 
his gray hair crusted with mud and blood. He 
is a princely man, but he had made a beast of 
himself. I must confess that the sight was to 
me a surprise, at that time, because I believed 
as you do. Since then, having taken some pains 
to look into the subject, I actually find the 
liquor-curse everywhere the same ; in the homes 
of wealth and culture, as well as in the work- 
man's cottage." 

At first the young men had been talking 
alone, but the girls had drawn near, and now 
stood listening to Tom's earnest words. 



2l8 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

'* Really, you are quite an apostle of temper- 
ance, Mr. Chamberlain," said Kate, with a slight 
tone of sarcasm; "but I think you overestimate 
its influence upon the educated. It is my belief 
that wine is a gift of God ; that wa are to use 
it moderately, wisely ; if we find ourselves grow- 
ing too fond of it, we should combat it, as we 
would any other temptation." 

** If you could ask the gentlemen-drunkards 
through the world, what had brought them to 
their desperate case, I think they would all agree 
that it was that creed," was Chamberlain's re- 
ply. 

"There are those that can take wine daily, 
and never show it in the least ; good, honest, 
Christian gentlemen. Now, there is my uncle, 
Mr. Whitney. He is a good example of what I 
call the blue-blooded, self-controlled gentleman. 
He takes wine at dinner always, and I will 
defy any one to say that it affects him," said 
Harvey. 

Chamberlain glanced involuntarily at Miriam, 
Jind was startled at the look of pallor that her 
face assumed, when this statement was made 
with so much confidence. She was unawaie of 
his quick look, and after a brief discussion, dur- 
ing which neither side appeared to gain any 
decided advantage, each, on the contrary, becom- 



TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 219 

ing more firmly established in their own way of 
thinking, the subject was dropped. 

Another game of tennis followed, in which 
Chamberlain and his fair partner earned more 
laurels ; then, excusing himself, he went to say 
good-bye to old Allan and Martha, before going 
back to Steep Street. 

On the evening after this pleasant discus 
sion, Chamberlain found himself at the North 
Church, enjoying the regular Wednesday-evening 
prayer-meeting, and a soul-stirring gathering it 
was. Testimonies, exhortations, and prayers were 
filled with the fervor that betokens the presence 
of the Holy Spirit. Nearly all present had 
spoken, even though it was but a word. A spirit 
of prayerful anxiety for the unsaved pervaded the 
gathering. The conviction had at last found 
its way into the minds of the comfortable Chris- 
tians of the upper settlement, that there were 
souls to be saved in the mill village. For years 
it had been quietly conceded that nothing could 
be done for this class. Mention was often made 
in conference-meetings of the sad state of affairs 
among this floating, fighting population, as well 
as the exceptional goodness of the upper settle- 
ment, but nothing further was done. Now, 
however, the interest in the mill folk, instead of 
being of the former general nature, was coming 



220 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

nearer to practical, individual labor. Chamberlain 
entered the church, not as a drone, but as a 
worker, and was welcomed, assisted, and encour- 
aged. He was thought to be a common workman, 
and, at first, was relegated to the place for 
laborers, a back seat and silent corner, but he 
did not long remain there. A natural speaker, 
before he had taken part in many meetings his 
every word attracted attention. Speaking, as he 
often did, of the factory folk, he was considered 
an authority, and was consulted whenever a new 
plan was brought up for their welfare. Many 
were broached, now that people were fairly 
awake, and many a fervent prayer arose for 
help for Steep Street. 

The mission-school in the room that had once 
been a store was, from the first, well supplied 
with teachers from the North Church. Chamber- 
lain was chosen superintendent, in spite of his 
urgent wish to remain in the background. 
The people whom this school was designed to 
reach seemed proud that one of their number, 
as they regarded him, should be considered 
the best man to run "the Sabbath-school." It 
was strange to hear profane, irreligious file- 
workers congratulating themselves that Steep 
Street could turn out "just as good Gospel- 
slingers as could be found." 



TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE, 221 

In a manner, the workmen were proud of 
Chamberlain. They liked to listen to his straight- 
forward testimonies. What he said was always 
listened to, and, as yet, in the midst of any 
of his talks, there had been no rising and tramp- 
ing-out of a restless half-dozen. Most of the 
speakers were subject to this annoyance; even 
Pastor Snow was not exempt. A very impor- 
tant result of the evening meetings and the 
Sabbath services was the gradual breaking-down 
of the barrier between the people of the upper 
village and the mill folk. Little by little, the 
bitter hate that had been entertained against 
the North Church people was dying out. As 
fast as it was seen that the indifference and 
contempt of the church-goers either did not exist, 
or had been laid aside, the villagers became 
cordial. Many of the men on Steep Street at- 
tended the meetings, and more would, when they 
were assured that it was to be popular. One 
among them, however, could not be induced to 
come near the room, and that was Sam Putnam. 
He refused Chamberlain, with a snappishness in 
his tones that the latter had never before heard. 
And yet, in his ordinary conversation that day, 
he was more affable than usual. 

He would not come to the meetings, and his 
satellites did as he did. There were those among: 



222 ffis OPPORTUNITY. 

the workers who believed that Sam would yet 
be a follower of the Master. One of the special 
subjects of prayer in the new school was this 
scoffing giant, who held most of the male pop- 
ulation of the village under his control. Night 
after night they prayed, and night after night 
Sam went the rounds, drank, rioted, and caroused, 
ignoring the fact that the soldiers of Prince 
Immanuel were preparing for war upon the sin 
and misery of Steep Street. 

But to return to the prayer-meeting in the 
vestry of the North Church. When the people 
gathered, the weather was clear and beautiful, 
but while the meeting was in session an array 
of black clouds came over the sky, and soon a 
peal of thunder announced the presence of a 
storm. The church was, perhaps, the most unsafe 
place in Steelville in which to be during a 
thunder-storm. Situated on high ground, having 
no trees, nor buildings of any height, about it, 
a»d sending a spire two hundred feet into the 
ail, ^t was a noted lightning-attractor. Four 
limes, during severe storms, had it been struck. 

While ♦■-he people did not reproach or blame 
the Great r, they never had faith enough to 
stay in the building during a shower. So it 
happened tha*- when the first peal came, they 
began to rise <».nd go out. The pastor, with 



TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 223 

great forethought, at once dismissed the congre- 
gation, and all surged toward the doors. The 
most fearful started at once for home, through 
the pouring rain, rather than run the risk of 
being struck by lightning. The fright did not, 
by any means, confine itself to the sisters, as 
many of the brethren were splashing away from 
the - point of danger as fast as their dignity 
would permit. 

When the crowd had thinned considerably, 
the calmer remnant, standing in the ample porch 
had opportunity to observe one another. Cham- 
berlain had discovered, some time before, that 
Miriam Whitney was one of those without an 
umbrella. She was also one who had not tied 
a handkerchief over her bonnet, gathered up her 
skirts, and fled from the perilous spot. 

" This is a very dangerous place, Mr. Cham- 
berlain," she observed, with a bewitching smile. 
"Aren't you afraid.?" 

" I ought to be," answered he. " But, being 
somewhat of a stranger, I have yet to learn 
just when to be frightened and when to be 
brave. I am most unfortunate in not having 
brought an umbrella. I could then have relieved 
you from any fears that you may have; but as 
it is I am powerless. If you intend to stay here 
for a few minutes, I will go out and borrow one." 



224 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

"I know of a better scheme than that," she 
returned, drawing nearer, and lowering her voice. 
" In the furnace-room, where the sexton puts 
his things, there is a green-silk umbrella. We 
can have that, if only we can get it. The sex- 
ton is away, or I should have borrowed it of 
him." 

Chamberlain seized upon the idea, and went at 
once to explore that part of the church in which 
the furnace-room was situated. He was not long 
in finding it, and in discovering further that the 
d^or was locked. The only possible mode ot 
entrance was by means of a ventilator over the 
door. Swinging himself through this, with no 
little difficulty, he alighted in an unfinished 
room. On one side were piles of kindling, reach- 
ing to the ceiling ; on another, a long table, 
stained with kerosene, on which stood in a row 
the church-lamps with the chimneys tipped back 
and wicks turned up ready for lighting. Boxes 
and barrels, shovels and hods, filled the centre of 
the room. Remembering how umbrellas gravitate 
toward corners, he began his search. There were 
hosts of things, in the worst possible confusion, 
leaning in all the corners, and it was no pleasant 
..ask to tip them all forward and look behind 
for the green-silk protector. At length, however, 
his search was successful, and it was unearthed. 



TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 225 



It was of huge dimensions, and its spread, when 
open, was tent-like. Climbing out, after passing 
it to Miss Whitney, Chamberlain again stood 
in the porch, but this time armed with an um- 
brella that was calculated to command respect, if 
not awe. All of the feminine part of the con- 
gregation had gone, when they stepped out into 
the rain. Only a few of the brethren who con- 
cluded to "resk it," now remained in the church- 
porch. They watched the young couple as they 
sallied forth, exchanging a mild joke or two with 
regard to there "being room for one more." 

The mammoth umbrella, held low, sheltered 
them wonderfully. There was a sense of near- 
ness and companionship, as they struggled to- 
gether against the storm, under one tent, shut 
away from the rest of the world. What a thrill 
of strength and pride the youth felt, as his fair 
companion clung to his arm ! Is there ever, in 
young manhood, a more supreme content and 
self-exaltation, than exist when he breasts a 
storm, be it ever so mild, with the knowledge 
that the one by his side is borne along by hia 
strength, and depends upon him for guidance 
and protection 1 

During the walk Miriam talked pleasantly, and 
Chamberlain enjoyed himself rarely. When first 
he knew Miss Whitney, he felt at times that 



226 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

she introduced varied topics, that she might kno\v 
the extent of his information. So well was this 
done, if indeed it were not all imaginationj that 
he had no opportunity to be at all provoked. Of 
late, however, not in the slightest degree had 
this been apparent. With instinctive pride he 
had not done himself injustice, nor had he at- 
tempted to air his knowledge. A weaker man 
would have done this. A self-educated file- 
grinder, unless a miracle of modesty, would have 
exhibited, in panoramic succession, his views 
on such subjects as he had on hand, and th^at 
would have ended the entertainment ; but Cham- 
berlain, with the instincts of a true gentleman, 
refrained from all ''splurge," and consequently 
secured the respect and confidence of the ac- 
knowleged belle of Steel ville. How much he 
valued these charily bestowed gifts, it would 
be hard to express. 

In the course of their conversation, Miss Whit- 
ney mentioned that her father was ill, and also 
that Jim, the hostler, was away that evening, 
otherwise he would have come for her. Cham- 
berlain expressed his gratitude for these favoring 
circumstances, and with a light half-banter, they 
chatted till the gateway was reached. Passing 
up the broad, gravelled walk, he left his fair 
charge on the veranda and started away. He 



TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 22; 

had gone but a few steps when he was hailed 
in a rough tone, and turning, saw Mr. Whit- 
ney advancing round the side of the house, lan- 
tern in hand. He had no hat on, and looked 
flushed and excited. As he came forward he 
I'jiched from side to side, taking almost all of 
the wide pathway. He looked very angry about 
something. 

**Here, you Jim, why don't you get to the 
stable and water the horse t He has n't had a 
drink for a fortnight ! He is perishing of thirst. 
How many times must I tell you to water him 
three times a day .^" he called. 

In some bewilderment. Chamberlain glanced 
about for Jim. No one was in sight. Even 
Miriam had disappeared. Then it flashed over 
him that the gentleman mistook him for the 
delinquent hostler. Reflecting that it was too 
bad for the animal not to have water if he was 
thirsty, he took the lantern and started for the 
barn, Mr. Whitney following and abusing him 
roundly for his negligence. He had, when in 
the barn, some little trouble in finding the pail 
and the pump. The horse fortunately made 
known his abiding place by a gentle whinneying. 
Keeping the lantern swinging as much as pes. 
sible, and turning away from the gentleman as 
much as he could, Chamberlain drew the water 



228 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

and gave the animal all he wanted. Then fol 
lowing the fault-finding directions, he arranged 
the bedding a little differently, loosened the 
"throat-latch" of the halter, and did a half- 
dozen little chores that seemed to trouble the 
owner. Bustling round, lurching against the 
stable-walls, hunting up all kinds of faults, Mr. 
Whitney was so busy that he did not look at 
the face of the hostler. Even when he abused 
him, he was examining what was wrong rather 
than the appearance of the wrong-doer. As 
Chamberlain glanced up to the top of the stairs 
that led from the kitchen of the mansion down 
to the stable, he saw a white-faced figure 
standing in the shadow and was sure it was 
Miriam. Sorry that she should witness the scene, 
he hurried through with his tasks, and after a 
parting salute from Mr. Whitney, slipped away. 
Returning to the front path, he recovered the 
umbrella from behind the shrub where he had 
dropped it, and started for home. The rain had 
ceased, and the clouds in broken masses were 
rapidly rolling away. 

"Mr. Chamberlain," said a voice at his elbow. 
He turned and saw Miriam. The moon broke 
through the clouds and showed the face white 
and tear-stained. 

"Mr Chamberlain, will you pray for ray 



TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE 229 

father ? " she said. " You know my fears, you 
know this terrible secret, and you are the 
only one. You said on the tennis ground, 
that you believed the Lord would hear prayer 
for relatives who were in danger, if only we had 
faith to utter them. Will . you pray for my 
father?" 

"We will both pray that his eyes may be 
opened to his danger. At nine this evening I 
shall be in my room and will pray. Will you, 
here at your home, join me in the prayer of 
your heart .^** 

"I will! I will! And, oh, I hope the Lord 
will hear." 

"You may be sure of it," said Chamberlain 
with the emphasis of strong faith. 



230 ins OPPORTUNITY. 



XVI. 

15^ • y ueep • Kisr)ci?rr)€[r). 

fpR an eighth of a mile along the river- 
bank extended the buildings and yards of 
the file-works. Above, on the opposite side, was 
Steep Street. Below stretched dense thickets, 
through which the cattle from the meadows had 
forced narrow paths. On the mill side, the land 
was level ; on the other, shelving and hilly. 
The higher bank was covered with a mixed 
growth of birch, pine, and scrub oak, bound to- 
gether with wild grapevines. So dense was this 
young forest, that few penetrated it, even the 
birds* nesters preferring to go where there was 
better traveling. To Chamberlain, this stretch of 
woodland had a peculiar charm. Several times 
after work-hours, while the days were long, he had 
gone into this labyrinth, startling the kingfishers 
from their skeleton perches, and rousing the in- 
dignation of the red squirrels to its highest 
pitch. During his rambles in this miniature wil- 



THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 23 1 

derness, he had never met a soul, and therefore, 
little by little, had come to consider himself as 
its only explorer, and to feel a Crusoe-like own- 
ership of the wild domain. 

One day, as he was walking softly along a 
bed of forest-moss that stretched several rods and 
was as soft as if woven in Persian looms, he 
heard, coming from below at the water's edge, a 
clear, tremulous voice. For an instant, he was 
in doubt as to where he had heard those tones 
before, but a moment's reflection brought back 
the midnight scene in the rear of the file-works. 
There could be no mistake ; the Scotch accent, 
the plaintive cadence, the mellow clearness, be- 
longed to none but the voice of that night. It 
must be Tam. 

" Oh, Lord, saund me a fish," said the voice. 

Chamberlain, remembering the shyness shown 
on the former occasion, peered cautiously through 
the thick-standing trees, to catch a glimpse of 
him. At first he was unsuccessful, but soon he 
saw, bending over the water, a figure dressed in 
t workman's suit, holding a fishing-pole. 

** Oh, Lord, remember poor Tam, and saund 
him a fish," he prayed. 

Cautiously, step by step. Chamberlain stole 
near the fisherman. At last, he was as clo&e as 
he could safely come, without being detected 



232 HIS OPPORTUNITY 

Not far from Tarn, at the foot of a huge tree, 
burned a tiny fire in a fireplace of stones. 
Leaving his fish-pole, ever and anon, the little 
Scotchman replenished this fire, and then went 
back to pray the more earnestly for "a fish, 
just one wee fish." There was in the words, — in 
all the acts of the little old man, — an absolute, 
Cinwavering faith, that seemed sure of success. He 
would catch, the fish. Chamberlain felt positive, 
even if it were the first and last that ever in- 
habited those waters. The young man longed to 
have a good look at the face of the fisherman, 
and soon the opportunity was given. A blue- 
jay lit in the tree behind which he was hidden, 
and began screaming its shrill alarm, till the 
woods rang. The Scotchman turned toward it, 
with his finger on his lips. " Peace," he said, 
*' would ye tal the world that Tarn is here } " 

The jay flew off. Chamberlain, with a strange 
fascination, was gazing at the face that he now, 
for the first time, saw. It was seamed and 
scarred till it had almost lost the likeness of 
humanity. Only the great, sad eyes, dark and 
full, redeemed it from being hideous. The hands, 
too, he noticed, were warped and scarred in the 
same way. Some great calamity had befallen 
this man. What it was, he could not con- 
jecture. 



THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 233 

" Thank the Lord ! He has saunt me a fish,** 
said Tarn, suddenly drawing the pole up fiom 
the water. On its end was a curious net, in 
which struggled a fine perch. With accustomed 
hand, the lonely fisherman dressed it, and soon 
had it cooking over the coals. Spell-bound by 
the strangeness of the scene, Chamberlain re- 
mained in his hiding place. According to cus- 
tom, the little man discoursed to himself, of 
things that happened in the past, of affairs at 
the mill, using names that made the listener 
start with surprise. Much of what he said was 
incomprehensible, yet there were many sentences 
which, although without present meaning, were 
laid away in memory's storehouse, some day to 
be of use. When the simple meal was cooked, 
the Scotchman took off his cap and, reverently 
kneeling, prayed. 

"O Lord," he said, "luke doon into these 
woods to poor Tam ! From Thy Throne in the 
heavens bend doon and listen. Here is one, 
Lord, who has not bowed the knee to Lamson, 
nor consented to his iniquity. Here is one, who, 
that he might keep the word of Thy patience, 
refused to join hands with the ungodly, and is 
now an outcast because of it. *Twas no' because 
I was better than many another, but rather be- 
cause I one day expect to meet Thee, my Re- 



234 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

deeraer, face to face. I dare not do wrong when 
I think of this. I remember also, dear Lord, 
how Thou didst deliver me from mine appetite, 
how Thou didst rebuke the destroyer and set 
me free. I praise Thee for it. Keep me in Thy 
holy keeping and let me never stray from Thee. 
Amen!" 

When he had finished his unique grace, the 
hermit drew some crackers from his pocket and 
made a hearty meal, finishing with a draught of 
river-water. He then carefully extinguished the 
fire, threw the stones into the water, and cov- 
ered the blackened embers with earth and leaves. 
After this, he washed with scrupulous care. He 
then parted the bushes and vanished — so quietly 
and quickly, that Chamberlain was for a moment 
too much surprised to follow. Then remember- 
ing that this strange being was possessed of 
much valuable information about the mills, and 
that he mentioned many things that held a de- 
cided air of mystery, he attempted to go after him. 
Quickly and noiselessly, he stole down to the 
small, open space where the repast had been 
eaten, and glanced hastily about. Not seeing 
him, he plunged into the thicket that had, but a 
few seconds prior, hidden the slight form of the 
fisherman. Once in this dense growth, he was 
unable to make any progress. Not only were the 



TVR QUEER FISHERMAN. 235 

tf 

trees growing close and in inextricable confusion, 
but the worst of all creepers, the squirrel-vine, 
with its armor of thorns, had bound and lashed 
the mass of living verdure so tightly together, that 
it seemed hardly possible that even a rabbit could 
find a pathway. After a short and fruitless strug- 
gle. Chamberlain retreated with scratched hands 
and torn clothes. 

How the Scotchman had penetrated it, was a 
mystery. For an instant he pondered, and then 
started up the bank, and avoiding the most 
tangled portions of the forest, made his way 
t-apidly in the direction of the mills. He was 
sure that some portion of the factory-yard was 
the destination of the Scotchman. The river was 
too wide to be crossed except at the bridges. 
A narrow foot-bridge led across the stream near 
the path that had been the scene of his former 
adventure with Tam, and it was here that he 
expected him to make his appearance. Hurrying 
forward, he reached this bridge and stationed 
himself where he could command a full view of 
it and the footpath that led from it. His 
assumption was well based, for a few moments 
later Tam came in sight, crossed stealthily to the 
further side, and hurried along in the direction 
of the deserted yards. When he was far enough 
ahead, Chamberlain followed, curious to know 



236 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

how he accomplished the seemingly impossible 
feat of surmounting the wall. 

In the shadow of the fence, he followed the 
figure till almost opposite the spot where he had 
stood and listened so long on a former occasion. 
Here Tam paused, glanced in all directions to 
see if the coast was clear, then seized one of 
the fence boards by its lower end, slid it up 
several feet from the ground, and crept under, 
then pushed it into its place again. As soon as 
this was done Chamberlain came forward to note 
carefully the gateway that the little hermit had 
made use of. Reaching the place, his quick eye 
at once detected the very board that had been 
raised. It was slightly discolored at the lower 
end, and when carefully examined had the un- 
stable air that things which are not solidly fast- 
ened are apt to have. Yet the casual observer 
would never have dreamed that it differed from 
the rest of the spike-capped boards of the fence. 
To be so sure of the location that he might 
know the place, even in the night, Chamberlain 
looked about for bearings. A stone or a stump 
close at hand would be all that he wished. 

As he scanned the surface of the field for such 
a landmark, he saw by the narrow foot-path, ex- 
actly opposite the secret gateway, a stake of hard 
wood driven so deep into the ground as to be 



THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 23/ 

almost hidden. This, then, was some one's guide- 
post. It did not seem likely that it was used 
by Tam, for such characters never need land- 
marks. They invariably possess an instinct 
that is most reliable and above outside help. 
Aware of this fact, Chamberlain pondered the 
matter and wondered if others knew of that 
way of entering the proscribed precincts of the 
yard. 

The many sentences dropped by the little 
Scotchman had awakened in him a growing dis- 
trust of the mill management. To be sure, 
Lamson's plausible explanation of Pfaff's presence 
and privileges in the mill settlement had so far 
overcome his former suspicion that he had 
frankly begged the agent's pardon. Yet here 
was this strange hermit fisherman, — this man 
who seemed perfectly well to have known not 
only his uncle Robert Flint, but his father as 
well — speaking of some deep plot that was de- 
,priving the company of legitimate profits. That 
there was something back of all this, Chamber- 
lain could not but believe. Yet what it was 
remained a mystery. With all the acuteness that 
he naturally possessed, he found it impossible to 
get on the track of anything wrong in the file 
business. Most carefully had he watched places 
where it seemed to him fraud would most likely 



238 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

be practised, but no sign of anything wrong had 
he discovered. 

As he recrossed the river on his way to Steep 
Street, a white, haggard face strained toward him 
out of the thick bushes. Chamberlain did not 
see it and went on unconsciously. When he had 
passed, its possessor rose and stood with an 
anguished, despairing look, gazing after him. It 
was John Temple. 

That very evening, an hour later, an important 
errand called Chamberlain to the mill, and after 
it was accomplished, he started to pass around 
the building, attracted to the rear yard by the 
knowledge of its mysterious tenant. 

" Going down the haunted path } " inquired 
one of the watchmen, who was standing, lantern 
in hand, near the corner. 

"The what?" 

"Why, the river-path. It's ha'nted, you know." 

"What haunts it?" inquired Chamberlain, with 
interest. 

"O, I dunno, ghosts or something. I believe 
there was a man murdered along there three 
years ago, and he has been seen walking up and 
down the path." 

Tom started on without further question and 
had gone but a few paces, when the watchman 
again hailed him. ^ 



THE QUEER FISHERMAN, 239 

"Better come through the yard with me," he 
advised. 

"I'm not afraid." 

"That don't count either way," said the other 
earnestly; "a young feller like you don't want 
to poke his nose into any ghost business. It 's 
mighty dangerous." 

The more anxious he was to keep the young 
man away from the river-path, the more deter- 
mined Chamberlain was to explore it. He there- 
fore started down the path and was soon alone 
in the darkness. Although he had so carefully 
noted the tiny landmark, it took him some time 
to identify it. When at last it was discovered, 
and he stood again with his ear close to the 
hidden gateway, he was tempted , to explore 
the dark yard then and there. Whether or not 
he would have carried out his wish cannot be 
told, for so intently was he listening for Tarn's 
tremulous voice, that he did not hear the soft 
step behind him, nor did he take alarm until 
strong arms were thrown around him and he 
found himself on the ground. He used all of 
his strength in attempting to free himself from 
his unseen antagonist, yet without avail ; and in a 
short time, breathless and wearied, he lay con- 
quered, his hands lashed firmly to his sides, a 
handkerchief bound tightly about his eyes. He 



240 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

Uttered no cry, for the uselessness of it was ap- 
parent to him. None would come to his rescue 
on the "haunted path." A muscular arm raised 
him to his feet and turned him around and around 
till he was so dizzy that he almost fell down, and 
then before he could in any way recover the lost 
bearings, he was led away. For some minutes 
they kept to the path, -then reached rough 
ground, where he was pulled over rocks and 
stumps in a most unceremonious manner. At 
length, after splashing through a shallow brook 
or pool, a building was entered, as Chamberlain 
knew by the difference in the air. Here a halt 
was made, and after a whispered consultation the 
bandage was taken from his eyes. With great 
curiosity he looked about and found himself in a 
large room, dimly lighted by two or three 
candles. The monstrous shadows and the vast 
emptiness of the place had a most weird effect, 
and no doubt our hero would have been 
frightened had he not recognized the place as 
the "gate-house" to the rear yard, explored by 
him one noon. His captors had left him in the 
middle of the apartment and were gone before 
he had seen them. On attempting to move, he 
found that the line securing his hands was 
made fast to an iron bar that stood up from 
the plank floor. Willing to test the strength of 



THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 24 1 

his fastenings and much reassured when he 
knew that he was in the mill, he began 
vigorously to struggle. As he did so an un- 
earthly groan rang through the empty spaces of 
the great room. 

"He struggles. Shall they be his lasht?" asked 
a hollow voice. 

"Yea," responded a chorus, which Chamber- 
lain estimated contained three voices, including 
the Hibernian interlocutor. As he had been in 
more than one college scrape of a nature simi- 
lar to this, he felt at home, and was pondering 
the best course to pursue, when a happy thought 
struck him. He saw no one, but without doubt 
he was observed. If he appeared so overcome 
by fear as to faint, would they not show them- 
selves } 

" The executioner comes," said the sepulchral 
voice, with its ridiculous intonation and accent, 
and, with measured stride, a white-robed figure 
appeared and advanced. 

" Oh ! spare me ! spare me ! I '11 never go 
near the haunted path again," shrieked Chamber- 
lain, with an agony so startling that even the 
ghost jumped. 

" Will you shware it .^ " 

But no answer came. The captive had fainted 
and fallen in a heap upon the floor. 



242 ms OPPORTUNITY, 

The ghost paused irresolutely, then advanced 
cautiously and raised the limp hand. 

*'Come out here, Mike," he said. "The lad 
has fainted dead away. Let *s carry him out, 
and leave him by the road-side. He will never 
trouble us again." 

" By the howly St. Pathrick, but that was 
well done," said the interlocutor, coming out of a 
shadowy corner. " Here, Jack, lend us a hand." 

As they prepared to raise the prostrate figure, 
the passage-window, through which Chamberlain 
had entered on his first visit, was opened, and 
Sam Putnam swung himself in. 

"What in thunder are you fellers up to.^" he 
asked, in great astonishment. 

" We have been givin' this bye a lesson on 
the dangerosity av inquisitiveness," replied Mike, 
with an abashed air. 

" Who is it ? Why, it 's young Chamberlain ! 
Who hit him.> What's the matter .5* " 

" He 's only sheared. We showed him a ghost, 
and he fainted, that 's all." 

" Well, how did he come here .? " asked the 
giant, with an angry ring in his voice. 

Meekly Mike narrated the watchman's attempt 
to keep him away, his attitude of listening at 
the secret gate, and the method of capture. 
When he had finished, Sara said, abruptly, — 



THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 243 

> 

"Get back to your places, every one of you, 
and don't try any more risky work, whatever 
happens." 

Obediently the three filed out, and left Putnam 
with the captive. Thinking it time to recover, 
the latter sighed heavily and opened his eyes. 

" Get up," was the not-unkindly command. 

" My hands are tied, and I don't think I can," 
was the reply. 

With an expression of entire disgust, Putnam 
cut the cords and led the young man to the 
window. Both climbed out and stood in the 
yard. 

"I suppose this foolish joke on the part of 
the * night-puddlers * will be told all over the 
mill by you to-morrow ? " enquired Sam, gloom- 
ily. 

Surprised that he was not threatened, Cham- 
berlain replied : 

" There is no special need of my telling any 
one. 

"I wish you would keep it quiet, then. They 
are good fellows, and were only on a lark." 

" Why are they about this part of the mill, 
instead of being near the furnaces ? " asked 
Chamberlain, but received no answer. Without 
further conversation the two walked to one of 
the side-gates, and the intruder was dismissed, 



244 ^/-y OPPORTUNITY, 

with a gruff "good-night." As Sam went back 
to the rear yard, he muttered to himself, — 

"If that young feller hasn't some object in 
hanging around here, I am mistaken. There 
ain't a thing happens in the works, but he 
knows. I don't wonder the dekin hates him.*' 



MRS. BOWMAJrS BURGLAR. 245 



XVII. 

m RS. BOWMAN'S husband had been a 
soldier ; and, although not slain by a 
bullet, he came home to die a victim to the 
decanter. Wnether he was a brave man or not 
does not appear, but were one to judge him by 
his only son, poor Rob, he must have been one 
of the most arrant cowards in existence. Mrs. 
Bowman, on the contrary, feared nothing. As 
muscular as a man, and possessed of an iron 
constitution, coupled with untiring energy, she 
was the exact opposite of her shiftless, easy- 
going boy. 

Among the happenings that took place during 
the stay of Chamberlain, was the payment of 
quite a sum of money, "back-pay," that stood 
to her husband's credit with the government. 
The widow, fearing the banks, resolved to keep 
it in her own house, and, as she supposed, had 
no confidants in this decision. One night, not 



24^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

long after the sum had been received, the lady 
of the house was awakened by a noise on the 
lower floor. Thinking it must be some drunken 
man from the village, she stepped into her son's 
room and told him to go down and investigate. 
With horror unfeigned, he refused. He would 
go nowhere without company, and the idea of 
descending the stairs to meet a possible ghost, 
or midnight-assassin, was more than he would 
entertain. Mrs. Bowman, therefore, started down 
the stairs to wreak substantial vengeance upon 
the intruder, should he be found. 

Her quest was more successful than she had 
supposed it would be, for, in the kitchen, trying 
to open the tiny medicine-closet over the fire- 
place was a man. She recognized Gaffney, as 
she supposed, and at once settled upon a plan 
for punishment that seemed suited to the offense. 
Near the chimney was a brick-lined coal-closet, 
with a door almost ponderous in strength. It 
was now empty, and she resolved to put him 
in it. The door stood slightly ajar, and she felt 
certain that, could she take him by surprise, 
she could hustle him in there before he had 
time to resist. Swiftly and noiselessly she ad- 
vanced, and seized him by the collar, and in a 
twinkling he was a prisoner, and the door was 
securely bolted. Then, without a word, she re- 



AfRS. BOlVAfAN'S BURGLAR, 247 

turned to her room, and slept soundly till 
morning. 

The first one up in the house, she was about 
to open the impromptu cell, and release the 
town drunkard, when she noticed, lying on the 
table, a valise, which, being partly open, dis- 
played a set of tools' such as she had never 
before seen. More from instinct than from any 
appreciation of possible danger, she called Cham- 
berlain's attention to them, and he at once pro- 
nounced them burglar's tools. His statement 
was corroborated by two men, who happened to 
be passing at the time, and who, producing 
hand-cuffs, informed the astonished household that 
they were city officers, on the track of a noto- 
rious house-breaker. They felt extremely well 
over their luck, and, after a brief preparation, 
opened the door and secured their man. 

" One thing I should like to know," he said, 
as the "wristers" were put on. "What man 
took me ? " 

" Man ! " said Mrs. Bowman. ** It was only 
me ! Why, I could handle two of you, even if 
you be a buggler ! " 

"Well," said the house-breaker, as he departed, 
" you 've done what few men could do. Slippery 
Jack caught by a woman ! I '11 go out of the 
business directly." 



248 Hla OPPORTUNITY. 

At once Mrs. Bowman was a heroine. Het 
name came out in the city papers. All praised 
her. But, as they lauded her exploit, they 
laughed at Rob, who was more dejected than 
ever. In a most melancholy state of mind, he 
sought Chamberlain, as he was doing some e/en- 
ing work in the mill, and confided to his mus- 
cular friend all of his trouble. The young man 
was greatly amused over the other's earnestness 
and honesty in confessing his cowardice, and 
asking advice as to its cure. 

** Have you ever asked the Lord to make you 
brave ? " said he, finally. 

*' No-o,** replied Rob, slowly. " I did n*t know 
as he would care to help a feller in that line.'* 

"The next time you see any thing that 
frightens you, just pray as hard as you can, 
and go and examine it. You may be sure the 
Lord will take care of you." 

Rob promised, and started for home, greatly 
cheered. Even in going the short distance be- 
tween the mill and his house, he had a chance 
to test his new plan, for on the opposite side 
of the street stood a white, ghostly figure, 
raising its hands as if to warn him away. His 
first impulse was to run, but a second helj^cd 
him to overcome it. Advancing toward it, he 
prayed : 



MRS, BOWMAJST'S BURGLAR. 249 

"O! Lord help me! O! Lord help me!" 

Closer and closer he came, and still it did 
not vanish. His prayer became almost frantic, 
and the sweat stood in drops on his forehead. 
As he reached the figure, with a shudder, he 
put out his hand, and felt, — a common stone- 
post with a shirt tied around it, the sleeves 
flapping in the wind. A spasm of joy almost 
choked him. The Lord had helped him. He 
had been brave for once ; had taken the first 
step toward the self-command necessary to true 
manhood. He did not see two fun-loving 
file-workers slip away in the darkness, nor did 
he hear the surprised exclamation : 

"I never believed the little feller had half as 
much pluck ! " 

Rob did not stop here, however; he continued 
to grow in courage. He surprised his mother 
by offering to institute family worship. He act- 
ually spoke in prayer-meeting shortly after, and 
did well, too. And better still, he called at the 
home of one of the worst men in the settle- 
ment one evening, in great fear and trembling, 
to be sure, but praying with all his might, and 
spoke words of such power that the worthless 
scapegrace owned the misery of the life he led, 
and his desire for a nobler one. 

*' I 've found the secret of strength," he said 



250 mS OPPORTUNITY. 

to Chamberlain. "It is to put it all on to the 
Lord's shoulders. Why, two weeks ago I was 
so weak that I could n't go by a beer shop 
without yeilding to the desire for drink ; and I 
was so cowardly that I used to get mother to 
go with me to the mill and come for me after- 
wards. I never dared to go anywhere, unless 
with a crowd. I s'pose every one despised me, 
— I know they did, — but the Lord didn't. But 
now when I get frightened, I just say, *0 Lord, 
this is your world, don't let any thing in it 
hurt me ; and if I must be hurt, help me to 
bear it like a Christian,* — and he is with me 
every time." 

Mrs. Bowman was not blind to the great change 
that had come over her son. He no longer 
drank, and for that she greatly rejoiced ; yet 
she was not satisfied. The utter dependence 
that her boy had placed upon her, even when 
he was led by evil companions, was exceedingly 
sweet. She was only too glad to be brave for 
him ; to go to the mill ; to meet him dark 
nights ; to help him in his chores ; to protect 
him. Now as he stood up and acted and lived 
for himself, she could hardly bear it. The neW' 
found strength appeared to rob her of her child, 
and the poor woman was wretched. It was not 
jealousy that made her feel thus disappointed. 



MRS, BOWMAN'S BURGLAR, 2$! 

but a misguided, but tender, mother-love. She 
tried in many ways to get him back to the 
former state of dependence ; she " wanted her 
baby again." It would have been a relief to 
her to have him get thoroughly frightened and 
claim her protection. She found that they were 
growing apart, and felt as if he were robbing 
her of one of her prerogatives in being brave. 
Yet she saw, with increasing joy, that Rob im- 
proved. One night, waking suddenly, she saw 
what looked like the figure of a man leaning 
over a chair as if to reach the bureau where 
their money was kept, and hoping Rob would 
claim her protection, she awoke him in pre- 
tended terror. Rising, he entered the room, laid 
his hand on the figure, and it resolved itself 
into a pile of clothing. This was almost too 
much for the woman to bear; she felt like cry- 
ing over the failure. 

It happened at this time that the upper town 
was excavating a reservoir not far from Mrs. 
Bowman's house. The water ran in so fast — as 
the ground was springy — that a pump must be 
kept going all night, the workman receiving 
double pay. Rob applied for and received the job. 
His mother remonstrated, coaxed, and drew fright- 
ful pictures of midnight darkness ; and it must 
be confessed Rob trembled not a little, but did 



2S3 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

not change his mind. He was to pump from 
three in the afternoon till twelve at night, when 
he would be relieved. The foolish woman, racked 
with the thought that her boy was more and 
more lost to her, resolved that night to win him 
back if possible. 

The situation of the reservoir was dismal enough. 
Only a few empty houses were near, and the 
road was little traveled in the night. Of course 
Rob had a touch of his old timidity; but he 
kept pumping and praying, and got over it after 
a while; and when the cold shivers ceased to 
chase each other up and down his back, he felt 
happy. The man who was to relieve him came 
at eleven, and fussing around, put up a shelter 
against possible rain, and settled down to work 
just as the clock struck twelve. Rob then went 
home through the silent streets, with his heart 
in his mouth, and a prayer crowding it down. 
Nothing evil happened. He unlocked the door, 
stepped in, closed and locked it again, went up 
stairs, read his chapter, retired, and was soon 
sound asleep. How long he had slept is uncer- 
tain, when suddenly awakening he listened. No 
sound but the beating of — crash! a sudden heavy 
fall in the wood-shed, followed by a long silence. 
Rob trembled as if in an ague fit, and lay still, 
hoping Chamberlain would be roused. Five min- 



MRS. BOWMAN'S BURGLAR. 253 

utes passed, — ten; it must have been imagina 
tion. Perhaps it was the cat knocking something 
down ; there were lots of cats — bang ! came 
another heavy fall, close to the kitchen door. 
He was now praying for dear life, and strange 
to say, was gaining courage. Soon he rose and 
lighted a lamp, and before going further, read 
a few vers.es from his Bible. He then quickly 
dressed, took the Bible and the light, and started 
for the wood-shed, praying as he went. Reaching 
the kitchen door, with white cheeks and beating 
heart, he drew the bolt and stepped into the 
shed; as he did so, a ghastly, muddy, ragged 
creature partly raised herself from the floor and 
looked wildly at him. 

But we must go back a little. Mrs. Bowman, 
as has been stated, had determined to win Rob 
back to her that night, or never. At about 
quarter of eleven, with a sheet folded under her 
arm, she started for the reservoir with the in- 
tention of giving him a good scare, and then 
protecting him. As she came in sight of the 
little lantern which threw a giant shadow of Rob 
across the street, and grotesquely copied every 
movement, she heard the clock strike eleven. 
Her son stood with his back to the pit, pump- 
ing leisurely. A short ladder went down to the 
pit's bottom, and rested upon a little platform 



254 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

of earth. Supposing that Rob would have to 
come down there for something or other, she 
descended, wrapped herself in the sheet, and 
waited. Soon she heaid voices. 

"Take the ladder,** shouted her son. 

"What.?" asked the other. 

"Take the ladder.'* 

"That man must be pretty deaf,** thought Mrs. 
Bowman. "I wish he'd go away, and Rob would 
hurry up.** 

At that moment the ladder was drawn up, 
leaving her there without means of escape ! Her 
first impulse was to call out, but pride held her 
back. They would undoubtedly put it down again, 
she argued. In this she was disappointed, as 
the possessor was building a shelter from a horse 
blanket, a pole, and the ladder. 

Soon Rob said good-night, and left. Every 
thing grew quiet again, and there was no sound 
but the dull strokes of the pump. Chilled and 
disappointed, she waited a few minutes, and then 
spoke. 

"Mister!** said she softly. 

"Mister!** louder. 

"Mister!** louder still. 

" Mister ! *' shrieking. 

Chunk — chunk — chunk, went the pump steadily 
and calmly. 



MRS. BOH^AATS BURGLAR. 255 



*' Fire ! Murder ! " 

Chunk — chunk — chunk. 

She threw stones. The first struck the wall 
of earth in front of her; the second nearly pulled 
her off of the little platform, and to keep from 
falling she put one foot down into the cold water 
that reacli.sd nearly to her knee; the third came 
down on her head. What should she do.? Il 
was very cold. She called again, tried to climb 
up the damp, earthy side, and slipped off into 
the water. She threw more stones, and finally 
prayed. Soon after, it occurred to her to pull 
up the hose and stop the pumping. A wet, 
slippery search revealed it after a while, and the 
pump coughed, strangled, and stopped. After an 
age of deliberation, the ladder was let slowly 
down into the pit, and the man started to fol- 
low it, when what appeared to be a monstei 
from the depths of the earth, sprang up its 
welcome rounds and disappeared in the direction 
of Steep Street. The pumper fled in the opposite 
direction. 

Reaching home, Mrs. Bowman entered the 
woodshed through the window and started for 
the kitchen door. The saw-horse maliciously stood 
in the way, caught her dress with its rigid arms, 
and threw her headlong. Somewhat stunned, she 
arose, groped around for a while, and got lost ; 



256 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 



thought she saw a light, started eagerly toward 
it, met the saw-horse again, and was thrown 
into an empty coal-hod. The rake dropped across 
her back, a coal-sieve fell on her head, her foot 
caught in a crack in the floor and would n't 
come out, and to cap it all, Rob came with a 
lamp and ordered her off the premises ! With 
difficulty, she recovered herself enough to make 
herself known, when Rob helped her up and 
into the kitchen. Then, like the kindly son that 
he was, he brought dry clothing, untied her 
soaking shoes, and was so good and tender that 
the widow actually broke down and cried, em- 
bracing him the while with such energy that it 
took his breath away. 

"Where have you been, mother?** he finally 
asked, in wonder. 

"O Rob, I*m a wicked woman. I went out 
a puppus to scare you, and the Lord punished 
me for it. I 've been down in the reservoy." 

"To scare me I Don't you want me to be a 
man.?** asked the son, with a quiver on his lip. 

" Yes, yes ; but I want you to love me — to 
let me do for you. For years I *ve stood between 
you and every danger, and now you put me aside. 
I 'm a fool, — I know I am, — but it's because 
I love you so.** 

Rob understood without any more explanatioi.. 



MKS. BOWMAN'S BURGLAR. 2^J 

and kissed the faded cheek, and laughed a quiet 
little laugh. 

"Don't you fret, my mother," he said, affec- 
tionately ; " you 'U never lose your grip on me ; 
and as for my getting along without you, it 
couldn't be done." 



2 5^ tfl!i OPPORTUNITY. 



XVIII. 



ail's- i;^icr)ic. 



§ATURDAY night was, with the Steep-street 
population, the grand carousal time of the 
week, and on Sunday they slept. Whether they 
respected the Sabbath enough to keep it free 
from their orgies, or whether they could not wait 
until that day, but must needs begin as soon as 
free from the week's labor, is an open question. 
Certain it is that Saturday night, — the whole of 
it, — was as noisy and turbulent as any inmate 
of. bedlam could wish. Possessors of clear con- 
sciences and good digestion slept during these 
hilarious times, but the nervous and dyspeptic 
were kept awake. Among the former class was 
Chamberlain. As a rule, little of Steep-street 
rioting did he hear, after the first week or two 
of his novitiate. Soundly and sweetly he slept, 
while drunken songs, oaths, yells, and a medley 
of hideous noises came up from the lower end 
of the settlement. 



pfafp's picnic. 259 



Perhaps, had he been more wakeful, he might 
have prevented Pfaff's picnic, but on second 
thought it was much better that sleep held him 
fast, for the rough, half -intoxicated men might 
have injured him. In order to describe the pic- 
nic, we must go back a little. Lamson had 
promised, with seeming sincerity, to provide the 
new store with a suitable manager. This he 
did, introducing a Mr. Drummond, who said he 
was acquainted with the business, and was more- 
over a strict temperance man. Lamson only 
knew of him by hearsay, but he produced 
a letter from the pastor of a church some miles 
away, that gave him a good character. As 
Chamberlain could not, by any possibility, run 
the store himself, he was very much relieved 
when this person presented himself, and the 
bargain was completed. For several days the 
business had gone on swimmingly, then came the 
picnic. It had been Pfaff's plan, and he had made 
most elaborate preparations. Nearly all of the 
engine company were invited, together with three 
or four outsiders, who were known to be hard 
drinkers and desperate rioters. Precisely what 
the programme was, none of the men knew, but 
that plenty of liquor would be provided and that 
some frolic was to be indulged in, all were aware. 
They gathered therefore in the rumseller's upper 



260 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



room, where pipes and liquors were at once lib- 
erally supplied. 

"What is all this for?" asked on€. 

"For nothing! AH free!" replied PfafE. 

" Yes, but what is the cause of this picnic ? 
Plad any good luck?" 

"Oh," returned he, "this is my birthday; I am 
celebrating for that. I want all the boys to 
drink my good health." 

There were few in that company who needed 
urging. Sam Putnam, with his usual self-poise, 
held off as long as any, but at last was pre- 
vailed upon to drink, and ere long was as wild 
and ready for "some fun" as any of the rest 
of them. When the company were ripe for the 
sport, Pfaff proposed it. 

" Boys," he said, " this ain't only a picnic it 's 
a surprise party." 

" Who on ? " some one asked. 

"Do you remember the store that sold Gaffney 
kerosene and almost poisoned him ? " 

"I guess we do," was the reply. 

"Don't I?" said Gaffney. 

"Well, look here, I found the keys to it in 
the street this afternoon." 

Pfaff held up the bunch of keys and looked 
around in triumph. 

"What of that?" 



PFAFF'S PICNIC, 261 

"Well, we will give that store a surprise party. 
We will go in and have a circus, — a picnic. 
They say there never shall be a drop of liquor 
drank in that store. Let 's make them lie ; let 's 
take a pail of liquor up there and drink it!" 

The proposition was received with acclamation, 
and soon the whole party were on their way 
to the place. 

Pfaff took the lead, and when the building 
was reached, unlocked the door and let his fol- 
lowers in. With suspicious readiness, he found 
lamps and lighted them, keeping the shutters 
closed, that there might not be too much dis- 
play made to outsiders. Crackers, cheese, prunes, 
and dried currants were then handed out over 
the counter by the genial German, whose jokes 
at the expense of the unfortunate proprietor of 
the store were so exceedingly funny, that the 
men almost went into fits, laughing. 

By degrees, the spirit of mischief grew stronger 
among the visitors. With malignant glee, they 
broke open barrels of flour, pulled the spigot 
oat of the vinegar cask, smashed boxes of spices, 
and acted like a band of Apache Indians. In 
the two hours of rough sport in which they in- 
dulged, there was more damage inflicted than 
hundreds of dollars could replace. At last, when 
the work was about done to Pfaff's satisfaction, 



262 HIS OFFORFUNITY. 

he proposed an adjournment to his own store for 
more liquor. He was the most sober man of 
the party, and therefore the leader. With noisy 
songs, by twos and threes, they straggled down 
toward the rumshop. Once there, the liquor- 
seller threw the keys into the river and with a 
sigh of relief, took a long drink. As a rule, he 
was not given to drinking. He was too mean 
to do much more than drain the glasses for 
which others paid. Yet he had in the years 
past awakened an appetite that would some day, 
and that not far distant, drag him to the lowest 
level, if it were possible to further debase any- 
thing so degraded. Now that his picnic was a 
success, he drank heavily. 

Pfaff felt that he had triumphed. His two 
great enemies in the village, as he believed, 
were the temperance-store and the new water- 
works. He hated one as much as the other. 
Both favored temperance, both injured his busi- 
ness, and he felt that he must crush them 
together. The store had received its death blow. 
What a grand success it would be, could he, 
that very night, in some way, destroy the 
beautiful fountain that was playing at the head 
of the street ! He had heard its waters praised 
by the people on the street till he was sick of 
the name of it. Now if he could spoil it, would 



PFAFF'S PICNIC. 263 



not that be the most joyful moment of his life ? 
He was just drunk enough to appreciate and 
pity the intoxication of his companions. Stealing 
away from them, he procured a hammer and 
two or three keg bungs, and started up the 
street. In his befogged intellect was the idea 
that he could, with these things, plug the pipe 
through which the water came. He argued that 
once were the water stopped, the pressure ac- 
cumulating in the pipe would burst it, and thus 
forever do away with the possibility of the hated 
"sweet water" ever again appearing at the sur- 
face at Steep Street. 

Chuckling to himself at the thought of his own 
bright views, he staggered up the street, stop- 
ping at the store to give the door a triumphant 
kick. Then he made his way up to the litlle 
plateau, where spouted the obnoxious fountain. 
As yet the pipes had not been laid to conduct 
water to the houses. Indeed although it had 
already furnished water to almost all of the 
water-drinkers below, it was in an unfinished 
condition. A single inch-pipe, eighteen inches 
long, rose from a rough platform of planks. 
Through this the water flowed clear, cold, and 
sweet. Falling on the planks, it ran off into an 
improvised basin of rough stones, the overflow 
forming a tiny brook, that ran down the Steep- 



264 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

street gutters, cleansing them from the filth of 
the sink-drains. 

Pfaff was slow and deliberate in his prepara- 
tions to suppress the hated water, and his 
manner of treating his elusive enemy was 
original. 

After gaining the top of the street, he stood 
with ponderous gravity, balancing himself by the 
side of the fence, gloating over his rare oppor- 
tunity for revenge. At last he felt that he was 
in a position to crush this hated dispenser of 
pure water. 

"No bishness here," he said, looking savagely 
at the pipe. "Spoilsh my trade Inger the peo- 
ple. No bishness here ! " 

The spirituous energy that he had felt, when 
first he started for the fountain, was somewhat 
abated. He began to feel sleepy, and doubtless 
would have lain down by the fence for a nap, 
had not his cherished purpose roused him to 
action. Drawing the wooden plugs from his 
pocket, he put the hammer on the ground, as 
if it were made of glass, — then hunted in his 
pockets for it, wondered where it was, stepped 
on it, and, with an air of great wisdom, picked 
it up again, and was ready for the attack. 

Advancing with dignity and care, he knelt on 
the plank flooring, oblivious of the water that 



PFAFF'S PICNIC. 265 



was wetting his knees. Getting in the proper 
position, he attempted to force one of the plugs 
into the open mouth of the pipe. For an in- 
stant it stopped the stream, and he removed 
his hand and raised the hammer to strike a 
heavy blow, when the gathered force blew the 
plug high in the air, and the fountain played 
on as before. The hammer fell on the top of 
the pipe, splashing the water full in the face 
of the vengeful rumseller. Still on his knees, 
he hunted for the other plug, and, after a long 
search, discovered it. With extra care, he placed 
it as before, and again raised the hammer, and 
the plug leaped into the air as before. 

Pfaif was provoked. His plan for bursting the 
pipe had failed. He grew angry and threw the 
hammer away. A man of his inexorable perti- 
nacity, even though drunk, would not give up a 
scheme unless forced to. So he looked around 
for something else with which to wreak his 
spite upon the spouting well. Far and near 
he hunted, picking up stones, and rejecting 
them, as unfit for his purpose, and growing 
drunker every minute. 

At last he found a short piece of board, and, 
clasping it firmly, tottered back to the point of 
attack. Just how to use the board puzzled him. 
At first he placed it against the pipe, and strove 



266 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 



to bend it, and perhaps break it off. Then he 
carefully put it down upon the top of the pipe, 
deflecting the stream from its perpendicular, and 
causing it to spout out from under the board 
at an angle. As the covering was so slanted 
that the stream was turned away from him, he 
imagined that he had succeeded in stopping it, 
and, in the excess of his zeal and joy, vowed 
to stay there all night and tire the thing out. 
For several minutes he held the board in that 
position, then he began to grow weary. The night 
breeze made him shiver. In his wet clothes, 
unused, as he was, to any sort of exposure, 
there was danger that he would catch cold. 
His arms also ached, from the effort required to 
hold the board. 

His fertile brain finally hit upon an expedient 
by which the subjugation of his enemy could 
be accomplished, and, at the same time, his own 
comfort be secured. He would sit on the board. 
Carefully turning round, at the same time hold- 
ing his improvised seat in its place, he gently 
lowered himself to it. The feat was almost ac- 
complished, when one of those unaccountable 
lurches, by which drunken men are apt to upset 
their best-laid plans, overcame him. He lurched, 
the board slipped off on the further side of the 
pipe, and, losing his balance, he sat squarely 



PFAFF'S PICNIC. 267 



down, with his back against the pipe, closer 
than was comfortable, for, so near did he come 
to sitting on the pipe, that the round iron arm 
forced its cold eighteen inches of length inside 
of his short coat and vest, and now was playing 
away in the back of his neck, as untamed and 
free as ever. 

With a gurgling cry, the water-logged rum^ 
seller attempted to break away, but the firm 
iron held him fast. His coat and vest, most 
unfortunately for his comfort, were of first-class 
material. Both were buttoned, and, no matter 
how much he tugged and pulled, he was held 
tight. Although the water was rapidly sobering 
•him, it was also bringing on a terrible chill. 
With all his might he struggled, trying to tear 
himself away from the ceaseless shower-bath. 
At first he was either too proud or too much 
befogged to call for assistance, but as he began 
to realize his desperate condition, he raised a 
husky, wavering cry. 

Boisterous Steep Street, accustomed to the 
most unearthly sounds from throats of brass, 
would never note that thick, choking wail. Per- 
haps the fact that he had caused so many 
helpless ones to cry for aid, and had shown no 
pity, would now, in some judicial way, hinder 
his own rescue. Not that Pfaff entertained any 



26S HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

such thoughts.. He was simply grovelling in his 
fears, and lifting up his pitiful voice, hoping 
some one would come to his relief. 

As we have said, Chamberlain was a sound 
sleeper. The noise of the street had not, during 
the whole night, disturbed him; but now, as 
morning was drawing near, he stirred and be- 
came wakeful. First, he heard the shrill voice 
of a barn-yard fowl, far over the hills, then a 
faint, quavering cry that sounded human. In 
his drowsy state, the two sounds were confusedly 
mingled. That they actually meant any thing, 
he did not realize. One was to him as mean- 
ingless as the other. Both came from the misty 
land of dreams, where the strangest occurrences 
awaken only calm surprise in the mind of the 
dreamer. 

" Help ! help ! " came the faint voice. With 
the most dispassionate interest. Chamberlain wove 
this cry into his morning dreams, growing little 
by little more conscious, till at length he began 
to think that something was the matter. Sud- 
denly rousing himself, he sat up and listened. 
The quavering wail that he now heard made 
him leap to the floor and throw up the window. 
He naturally looked toward the fountain, and in 
the moonlight saw a figure bound to the planks, 
but writhing and calling piteously. 



PFAFF'S PICNIC. 26g 



Hastily donning his clothes, he ran down- 
stairs and soon stood by the dripping man. 
He disengaged him from the pipe, and drew 
him from the steady-flowing water. From head 
to foot the rum-seller was soaking wet. As soon 
as fairly released, he rolled over in a faint, a 
chill, or something * similar, straightening out as 
stiff as a board. Realizing the preciousness of 
time, if the man was to be brought out of it, 
Chamberlain put forth all of his strength, and, 
lifting him, bore him the short distance between 
the fountain and his boarding-place. The Ger- 
man was a heavy man, and the feat was 
no small one, but it was successfully accom- 
plished. Chamberlain, panting with the violence 
of his exertions, stood in the diminutive entry, 
and, calling to his landlady, wakened the house- 
hold. 

"I can*t have him here," said Mrs. Bowman, 
when she learned who it was. "He has done 
harm enough to me and mine, without my 
helping him." 

"You have no objection to my putting him 
n my room till this faint is over ? " asked 
Chamberlain. 

"Yes, I have." 

"Mrs. Bowman," said Chamberlain, sternly, "a 
few minutes* delay will cause the death of this 



270 mS OPPORTUNITY. 

man. Are you prepared to assume this respon- 
sibility ? " 

The rigid form was laid on th^* bed, the soak- 
ing clothes were removed, and warm blankets 
were wrapped around the cold figure. It seemed 
impossible for warmth ever to return to the 
chilled and livid body. A doctor had arrived an<l 
was active in his directions for his resuscitation. 
At length the brisk rubbings, the ceaseless 
efforts, were rewarded. Pfaff opened his eyes 
and uttered a groan. Chamberlain, in his anxious 
thankfulness, could have cried for joy. 

"Now I s*pose he can go?" said Mrs. Bowman. 

The physician turned to her, a rebuke in his 
eyes. 

"Has the man no money?" he said. 

" Money ! yes ! " was the half-hysterical reply. 
" He is rich, but he could n't stay here if he 
was king. He is a murderer ! He killed my 
husband by selling him rum. I begged him to 
stop, and he laughed at me. My nephew is in 
jail to-day because he sold him liquor and got 
him crazy drunk, and he did what he never 
would have done in his sober senses. No ! I 
say he shall not stay under this roof, — not if 
he were dying ! " 

Pfaff opened his eyes and looked at the 
frantic woman, then shivered and turned away. 



PFAFF'S PICNIC. 27] 



"I don't blame her," said the doctor. "Now 
that I recognize him, I see that it is the rum- 
seller down below. I don't blame the woman 
for hating the sight of him." 

"But can he be moved.?" asked Chamberlain. 

"Certainly not. Her hysterics will wear them- 
selves out in a few minutes, and then she will 
have to listen to reason. But, if I am any 
judge, this man will be in a high fever before 
the day cnd«." 



272 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



XIX. 

fHAMBERLAIN'S love of adventure would not 
long permit him to leave unexplored a place 
so interesting as the rear yard of the file-works. 
Often since he had "shadowed" Tarn as far as 
the hidden gate, had he planned to visit the 
enclosure some night and find out for himself all 
it contained. He determined, also, to learn for 
what purpose some of the buildings in that 
section of the works were used. The workmen 
did not seem to know, for he had questioned 
them. That there was something secret going 
on in them he was sure ; but in what line, he 
could not decide; nor could he formulate the 
vague suspicions that the words of the little 
Scotchman had sown in his mind. To tell the 
truth, he was sorely puzzled by the conduct of 
the agent, who appeared so courteous and kindly. 
Of late he had sought Chamberlain when it 
would not be noticed by the workmen, and had 



THE NIGHT GANG, 2/3 

impressed him with his desire to see the mill 
folk raised to a higher level. So earnest did he 
seem, that when with him, Chamberlain believed 
him to be sincere; but when alone, he found the 
old doubts asserting themselves, and the fragmen 
tary sentences of Tam, with the plainly uttered 
opinions of the laborers, came back in full force 
and shook his confidence. 

After the store had been gutted, he had gone 
to Lamson and had received his sympathy. In 
deed, the agent expressed strong indignation, 
and yet appeared so hopeless of finding out who 
did it, that Chamberlain even in his presence 
began to doubt his honesty. Lamson declared 
that Pfaff was at the bottom of the outrage; 
but in the same breath said the rascal was so 
wily that a skilled detective would be baffled by 
his way "of working. Chamberlain made little or 
no reply to the queries of the agent, as to what 
he intended to do with the store, and refused 
to accept the kind offer to relieve him of the 
lease. 

The care of Pfaff, who was in a high fever 
at Chamberlain's lodgmgs, made it impossible for 
him to visit the mill yard as soon as he had 
planned. Forced to occupy a lounge, on the 
lower floor of his lodging-house, while the 
delirious rum-seller occupied his bed, he, how- 



274 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

ever, took the first opportunity to steal away to 
reconnoiter. On this occasion he started at nine 
in the evening and made his way boldly through 
the mill village, answering the hails of fellow- 
workmen, but refusing to stop for friendly converse. 
Passing around the ample yard that enclosed the 
front buildings, he soon came to the footpath 
where first he had become acquainted with Tarn. 
Having carefully taken bearings on his last visit, 
he was able to go straight to the small gate, and 
raising it, to enter the forbidden enclosure. Once 
vithin, he carefully let the board down into its 
place, and stood looking about him. The yard, 
yith its heaps of debris, its huge boilers, its 
nisshapen shadows, had a weird air that greatly 
nhanced the romance of the scene. Now that 
'e was fairly within it, Chamberlain somehow 
-'^^st his imaginative expectations, and suddenly 
I Ax. that he might after all spend his time in a 
';uitless quest. He argued to himself that things 
j»owadays happen as they should, running in the 
.everyday, practical ruts, and never turning aside 
/or the delicious adventures of which one reads. 
.^ven as he entertained these thoughts, so dis- 
couraging to the adventurer's cause, he heard a 
'juick step on the footpath, and then some one 
fumbled for the gate-board. Noiselessly Cham- 
berlain moved aside, 2.nd concealing himself be- 



THE NIGHT GANG. 2/5 

hind a hogshead, awaited the new comer. A 
moment later a figure passed through the narrow 
gatev/ay and strode across the yard. Even in 
the dim light he recognized Sam Putnam. In 
great surprise, Chamberlain followed at a distance, 
feeling that he was on the verge of a discovery. 
Sam skirted one of the buildings, crossed the 
yard, and stopped in front of a shed, upon the 
door of which he knocked. 

"Enter," said a voice that was easily recog- 
nized as Tam's. 

" Well, old man, how goes it ? " asked Sam, 
opening the door and disappearing. 

" All reet. So you have n't forgotten Tarn ? 
Well, you are a gude lad, Sam, and the Loord 
will one day bless you for your kindness to a 
poor, daft body like mysel'." 

" I should be a pretty mean chap if I did n't 
stick to an old chum," answered Sam, heartily. 
" I don't forget the good turns you did me 
years ago, Tam ; they are all down in my 
memory." 

" Does Lamson never wish to have me removed 
noo?" was the anxious query. 

"He hasn't said a word about it for months," 
replied Sam. "I told him that when you went, 
I went." 

"Ye were aye generous. A man with so gude 



276 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

a heart as you, Sam Putnam, should not rest 
till he had given it to the Loord." 

Chamberlain expected some jeering reply, foi 
he knew of Sam as one who made fun of re- 
ligion unsparingly, and whose jokes were repeated 
from one end of the works to the other. He 
was therefore astounded to hear him say, — 

" I would if I . could, Tam ; but I am too 
deeply involved in certain affairs to make it 
possible. No man can serve the Lord and the 
devil at the same time, — that is, no man but 
Lamson." 

"He, will reap his reward; let us not trouble 
about him. The question concerns you now. 
Do you believe on the Loord Jesus Christ 1 " 

"I fear I do," was the reply, after a long 
pause. 

"Well, then, you never will have peace till 
you surrender. And mark me, you must give 
up everything that stands between yourself and 
God." 

Sam made no answer. Tam continued, — 

"I do not wish to boast, but did I not give 
up everything ? " 

"You did." 

"And such peace as I now possess the world 
can never bestow. I might have been rich and 
well looking, but for the Loord's sake I surren- 



THE NIGHT GANG. 2/7 



dered it all, and lonely though I be, he daily 
repays me a hundred fold." 

" I believe it," was the warm reply. ** I be- 
lieve it, and would willingly change with you to 
possess that peace." 

" Let us pray over it," said the Scotchman. 

One of the strange, heartfelt prayers that 
Chamberlain had before heard from the same 
lips now followed. It seemed to bring him near 
to the throne of grace, and he could hardly 
suppress the amen that rose to his lips as the 
prayer was ended. 

"I must go and look after the polish-makers, 
but I wish I was out of it," said Sam, at 
length. 

" Poor lad, I *m sorry for you. I wish you 
were as well out of the rascally business as I 
am. I will pray for you the night." 

The visitor left the hut, and with his easy 
stride went further into the labyrinth of build- 
ings and yards. Chamberlain following as closely 
at his heels as he dared. Turning first to the 
right and then to the left, among heaps of cast- 
ings, passing around many obstructions, they went 
till he fairly lost his way. Finally, Sam stopped 
before the rear door of one of the lofty stone 
buildings that were now closed as not necessary 
for the work, and were supposed to be store 



278 mS OPPORTUNITY. 

houses. A peculiar double rap, accompanied by 
a low whistle, caused the door to be opened, 
and the giant passed from view. At the open- 
ing of the door. Chamberlain caught a glimpse 
of a well-lighted room, in which about a dozen 
men were working. Just what they were doing, 
he was unable to discover in the brief interval 
between the opening and closing of the door. 

For some minutes he stood :n concealment, 
waiting for Sam to reappear, but in this was 
disappointed. Advancing very cautiously he tried 
the door through which he had disappeared, but 
it was firmly fastened. Up and down the length 
of the building he passed, looking for windows 
that should enable him to catch a glimpse of 
the life within, but in vain. Baffled and puzzled, 
it seemed almost a freak of the imagination, for 
he could not hear any noise of tools, nor the 
least conversation. By placing his ear close to 
the wall of the building, however, he could de- 
tect a faint throb, like the beating of his own 
heart. This, he decided, must come from a small 
engine; yet no sign of escape-pipe or exhaust 
was to be seen. 

At last, grown bold by his freedom from dan 
ger, he decided to make use of the double rap 
and whistle that Sam gave, and take the 
risk. It was a fool-hardy thing to do, but a 



THE NIGHT GANG. 279 



knowledge of Sam's true character kept him 
from fear >f bodily harm. Stepping up to the 
door, he raised his hand to give the pass rap, 
when it was caught away, and a voice whis- 
pered; — 

"George Chamberlain, are you daft?" 

Taming with a start, he stood face to face 
with Tarn. 

"Come awa', man, till I talk with you,*' said 
the little Scotchman. 

Astonished by the sudden appearance of the 
little Scotchman, Chamberlain followed him in 
silence. No word did either speak till they were 
safe in the tiny shed. Then Tam said, — 

"Master George, what in the world were you 
about.? Would you put yourself in peril?" 

" Why do you call me * Master George '? " asked 
Chamberlain. 

"Are you not George Chamberlain?" 

"I am his son." 

With a sudden, frightened shyness, Tam arose 
from his seat as if to flee. 

"I thought you were Master George," he said, 
hoarsely. 

" Do not go, Tam. You were my father's 
friend, can you not be mine ? ^ My father, George 
Chamberlain, is dead." 

"Poor lad," said Tam, forgetting his fear; "I 



280 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

remember, now, to have heard of the death of 
your father ; but I 'm no' quite right in my mind, 
and I forget much that passes. When I saw 
you, I thought that you were he. You favor him 
greatly." 

Tam sat fingering the lapel of his coat, man- 
ifestly uneasy. Chamberlain watched him, won- 
dering how he could gain his confidence, and 
learn something of the clandestine work of the 
night gang that were in the stone building. He 
saw that the little Scotchman distrusted him» 
and had half a mind to escape. 

"Tam, things are going wrong here in the 
works. Lamson is playing a shrewd game, by 
which he makes money which should be turned 
into the hands of the company. Now what is 
it?" he said suddenly. 

The little Scotchman hesitated, and looked long- 
ingly at the door. 

"I daur not tell," was the muttered reply. 

" But is n't it right that I should know } Am 
I not wronged by your silence? I am in the 
mill, daily; I know that something is brewing 
You were my father's friend ; can you not be 
mine ? " 

" Have you ever seen the crucibles ? ** asked 
Tam, suddenly. 

"Yes." 



THE NIGHT GANG, 28 1 

"Well, you ken that they are made of black 
lead? After a few heats they become spoiled and 
are cast aside. You have seen the broken ones 
in the yard, mayhap ? " 

"I have," replied Chamberlain. 

** It was always the • custom to throw them 
away, after they had served their purpose, as 
unfit for further use. Lam son, however, heard 
of a scheme that was employed in other mills 
for converting them into stove-polish; so he fitted 
up a room in the old stone mill, and put a man 
at work there nights, grinding them to powder. 
Pretty soon he had another man, then another, 
till he now has twenty men at work there." 

"I should think it would be found out," 
observed Chamberlain. 

"Who is there to find it out .^ These twenty 
men are oath-bound. They are supposed to be 
at the regular furnace-work all night. Instead, 
they only put in about one-third of the time for 
the company and the rest for Lamson. They 
get the highest wages, and far from wishing to 
divulge the secret, they guard it with jealous 
care. I don't know what they would have done, 
had you knocked as you thought of doing." 

"Is this polish widely sold?" 

"Have you never heard of the Three X 
Polish ? " 



^SZ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



"I have seen it advertised." 

"Well, that is it. All over the country it ia 
•old, and the profits are very large. Lamson is 
1 wealthy man." 

" How did you happen to know all this 1 " 
inquired Chamberlain. 

" It 's a weary tale. I worked in the mill, and 
Lamson got his eye on me as a mon who 
could be trusted. One day he tried by flattering 
promises, to get me go to work at it. I always 
doubted him, and when I found that it was to be 
kept secret, I charged him with fraud to Robert 
Flint, his employer. Oh, mon ! How angered 
he was ! I thought he would strike me. He 
walked up and down his office, and looked as 
ugly as the Deil himself. He told me that he 
would be the ruin of me if I did not join with 
him, and I, foolish man that I was, dared him 
on. 

"Did he ever seek to harm you?" 

"He did that, and accomplished it, too. After 
he divulged the secret, I tried, as I told him 
I should, to get the ear of Robert Flint and 
to tell him of the whole affair, but found it im 
possible. During work-hours, I was kept out of 
the office, and all letters that were sent to Flint 
were first opened by Lamson, and wherever I 
went I was dogged. At length he had his re- 



THE NIGHT GANG. 283 

venge. Do ye note the scars on my face? on 
my hands ? They are the marks o ' Lamson's 
vengeance." 

With a shiver, Chamberlain looked at the face 
so scarred and seamed, from which burned the 
bright eyes with an almost unearthly light. 

"Lamson did it.?" said he in amazement. 

"Aye, he did it. He was permitted to do it. 
I bear him no ill will. He can harm me no 
more, for the Loord has raised up friends for me." 

"Talking to yourself, Tam.?" said a deep 
voice, and Sam Putnam put his head into the 
little room. On seeing Chamberlain he came in 
with a curious look in his deep-set eyes. 

"What is this boy doing here.?" he said. 

"This lad.? Oh, he is George Chamberlain's 
son. I dinna ken what he wants here, except 
'*t is to talk with me." 

"I suppose you know, young feller, that no 
one is aDowed in this yard after nightfall ? ' 
said Sam. 

'Then what are you doing here?" replied 
Chamberlain. 

"That is none of your business." 

"I tal you it is his business. He is George 
Chamberlain's son," asserted Tarn. 

"Are you?' was the answer, with a piercing 
look. 



284 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

**Yes, I am," said Chamberlain. 

Sam meditated for a few seconds. It was 
evident that at first he had thought of him as 
merely a common workman, who, through love 
cf adventure, or through mere curiosity, had 
scaled the fence to see Tam ; but now he saw 
his mistake. Manifestly, the news of Chamber 
Iain's relationship to the chief owner of the 
works made him ill at ease. 

"Are you at work here for the purpose of 
spying on the men.?" he asked with a bitter 
ring in his voice. 

"Putnam," said Chamberlain, "I came here to 
learn the business. My being in the yard to- 
night is to discover what kind of work is going 
on at night, when the villagers believe that the 
men are at the smelting furnaces." 

"That is something you had better not find 
out. Let me warn you, it is dangerous." 

"I have told him all. It is right that he 
should know. I am not oath-bound," said Tam. 

Sam knit his brows, perplexed and angry. 

"There is another object in my being here in 
the factory," continued Chamberlain, "and that 
is to see if I cannot do some good. The ter- 
rible state that rum has brought about on 
Steep Street is as plain to you as to me. 
There is a fearful daily misery, that calls to 



THE NIGHT GANG. 285 



heaven for help. It is my honest belief that 
there are hearts on the street, that even now 
the Holy Spirit is striving with. It is my wish 
to point some of those souls to the Way." 

Sam listened as if for life. 

"Do you honestly believe that the story of 
the Cross is true, — that Jesus Christ was the 
Son of God.^" he asked. 

" I am sure of it. The manner in which he 
has answered my prayers, and the sweet peace 
that has filled my soul, assure me of it. There 
is room for no mistake. The very dignity of 
truth is in the story." 

"You are right lad! You arc right," said 
Tam. "Those who come to the Loord with 
earnest hearts do not doubt. Their lives are 
filled so full of His presence that that there is 
no chance for it. They know His voice and He 
calleth them by name." 

"Why did he not keep Temple from falling.?" 
inquired Sam. 

"That is more than I can tell. I believe that 
John Temple will yet be saved. I know he 
was in earnest. Perhaps it was that the North 
Church might have a lesson." 

"Mighty little they have profited by it," 
sneered Sam, the hard tone coming back. 

"I am not so sure of that. The church has 



286 lijS OPPORTUNITY. 

voted to banish all wine containing alcohol from 
the communion table. I believe that Mr. Snow is 
fervently praying for the Steep-street people, and I 
also believe that his prayers will yet be answered." 

Sam was struggling with a deep conviction of 
sin. There could be no doubt of it. His whole 
bearing showed it. Chamberlain prayed in his 
heart that the Spirit of Truth might triumph. 
As he glanced at Tam he saw his lips move 
and felt that he also prayed. Just then the 
clock struck eleven. 

"We, must get out of this. The men have 
their recess in a little while, and it won't do 
for you to be seen. If Lamson heard of it he 
would get even with me in some way," said Sam. 

"You will not harm the lad, Sam?" said 
Tam, a ring of anxiety in his voice. 

"No, of course not. His pious talk has made 
me chicken-hearted." 

Following the giant. Chamberlain passed through 
the length of the yard, through the secret gate, 
and stood with him on the narrow foot-path. 

"I should like to ask you a question," said 
Sam, as they were about to part. "Do you 
believe that a man whose whole life had been 
steeped in rioting and sin, who had done scores 
of things that he could never undo, who loved 
liquor more than any thing else in the world^ 



THE NIGHT GANG. 287 

— do you believe that such a man could receive 
what you Christians call a new heart?" 

•*The Lord said, 'Whosoever will, let him 
come.' That means just such a man as you 
describe, as well as any other. Repent and be- 
lieve, ask for forgiveness, and turn from sin, and 
help is certain. 

"I have believed ever since my wife died, 
years ago, but the turning from sin was what 
troubled me. I can't bear to expose others." 

"A man cannot serve the Lord and the devil 
at the same time," said Chamberlain. 

" Well, good- night. I think that you mean 
what you say, anyhow." 

"Good-night, and God bless you," was the re- 
ply, and they parted. 

Chamberlain had gone but a little way, when 
he heard his name called, and Sam came hur- 
rying after him. 

"There is one thing I forgot to say. You 
have made a discovery to-night that will change 
things here without doubt. I am glad of it, 
but I want it distinctly understood that if any 
penalty falls on the night gang, it falls on me 
as well. And, another thing, the little bit that 
I have talked about religion, tc -night, was not 
to dodge any of my misdoings. I am willing tc 
face the music. Good-night." 



283 



HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



XX. 

^^0.|fer)ifcr)fs. 



flHOSE who are familiar with manufactories, 
notice that the afternoon jar and roar of 
machinery has a deeper, heavier sound than in 
the morning. Possibly the cogs, that shoulder one 
another in ceaseless rotation, the whirring pul- 
leys, the sweeping belts, weary with the day's 
labor, take this means of expressing a wish for 
relaxation. Whether or not this be true, it is 
certain that the men grow tired, — that their 
steps are less elastic, and their work moves more 
slowly. About four o'clock comes the maximum 
of this afternoon lull, which, as soon as it is 
appreciated, is followed by a "spurt" that carries 
things along till six o'clock brings relief. It 
was in the midst of this portion of the work- 
ing-day that Sam Putnam stepped into the 
outer office, and knocked at the door of Lam- 
son's private room. 



TIVO PENITENTS. 289 

"What is it?" was the curt query from 
within. 

"Can I see you for a few minutes?" 

"Who is it?" 

"Sam Putnam." 

"I'm busy. Can't you come again?" 

"Yes," was the reply. 

So astonished was the agent at the. quiet 
answer, that he pushed open the door and 
looked, a trifle anxiously, at his caller, who was 
already turning to depart. 

"Anything wrong?" he asked. 

" I guess not ; but any time that you are at 
liberty I have several things of some importance 
to tell you." 

"Come in now," said Lamson. 

Putnam entered and seated himself, waiting 
for the other to open the conversation. 

" Well ? " remarked the agent, impatiently. 

"I wished to tell you that I am about to 
enter the service of another master." 

"Who?" asked Lamson, in amazement. 

"The Lord Jes^is Christ," replied Sam, rever- 
ently. 

The agent flushed scarlet, then turned white, 
and seemed, for the moment, completely con- 
founded. 

" You astonished me, Sam ; I did n't know 



290 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

you cared for such things. You frightened me, 
too. Then it won't be necessary for you to 
leave me. You know I couldn't stand that," 
he said, finally. 

**I am not sure of that. My profession is to 
be an honest one." 

"Undoubtedly. You have my heartiest sym- 
pathy. It is a wise and commendable step. 
How is that last file-stock } There has been 
complaint that it is flawy," replied Lamson, at- 
tempting to turn the subject. 

"For some weeks I have thought of this, and 
am now determined to carry it through. My 
belief in the saving power of the blood of 
Christ is genuine. It can save me, and has 
done so. It can save you," said Sam, keeping 
to the point with quiet calmness. 

"Are you trying to preach to me, Sam.^ 
You forget that I am a member of the 
church." 

"I remember it, but being a church-member 
is not being a Christian. That you know as well 
as I. Do you believe that you are saved from 
your sins 1 " 

"Aren't you rather too young a convert to 
be questioning me.? How long have you been 
in the service of this Master?" a^ked tlic 
lawyer, with a forced smile. 



TIVO PENTTENTS. 29 1 

"Three ^days." 

"And what has become of the polish-works?" 
asked Lamson, involuntarily acknowledging that 
Sam could not consistently continue to defraud 
the company. 

"I dismissed all the men Saturday night." 

The agent's face became livid with rage." 

"How dare you.^" he said, leaping to his 
feet. "What right have you to discharge any 
men here.^ Why, there are scores of orders 
waiting to be filled ! " 

"I hired the men, and therefore I could dis- 
charge them. You recognize the fact that I 
cannot do that work any more, and I am glad 
of it. I would give any thing if I had never 
consented to it." 

" You remember your oath ! " 

" I do, but it is my belief that all of this 
will be found out before long, even if I 
hold my tongue, as I shall under the circum^ 
stances." 

The agent sat for some minutes in deep 
thought. Resting his face on his hand, he ap- 
peared to study the opposite wall, but when 
unobserved he was slyly examining Sam's face. 
The shallowest physiognomist would have as- 
serted, with confidence, that the giant was in 
earnest. His open face was not a mask behind 



292 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

which lurked any kind of guile. On the con- 
trary, it bore the impress of truth, honesty, and 
determination. Lamson, with keen eyes, saw all 
this, and wondered how he should again get the 
upper hand of this most valuable man. He had 
little time to decide, for Sam was even then 
waiting for him to speak. 

" Did it ever occur to you that I might pos- 
sess a conscience } " enquired the agent. 

"I suppose every one has something of the 
kind," replied the other. 

"Well, I most certainly have one, and, Sam, 
this crucible business has troubled me a great 
deal. I believe from the first a curse hung 
over it. There has been a quantity of polish 
sold, but almost no money has come from it. 
We sell at so small a profit that the bad debts 
eat up every thing. I am sick of the whole 
affair, and am glad you dismissed the men. I 
shall inform our New York agents that after 
this they must get some other firm to manu- 
facture for them.'* 

" You really mean to give it up ? " asked 
Sam, in surprise. 

"I do. It was a temptation to me at first, 
and I yielded, which was very wrong, but now 
that you have started to do right, I am going 
to bear you company. Only, one thing for the 



TfFO PENITENTS, 293 



sake of my mother, this must be kept a pro. 
found secret.*' 

Sam, with genuine fervor, promised that he 
would breathe no word of the affair. To tell the 
truth, he had gone into the office with a pra3'cr 
on his lips that his former partner in guilt might 
be influenced to turn away from his sin. And now 
it appeared as if the prayer was answered. 

Accustomed, as he was, to manipulating all 
kinds of men, Lamson perceived that he had 
again gained Sam's confidence, and it occurred 
that here was a good opportunity to learn more 
of his plans. Putnam, when feeling well, was 
apt to be off his guard, and, on matters of 
minor importance, could be easily drained of 
information. 

" Where are you going Sundays ? It won't 
do for you to spend them in the engine-house, 
as formerly." 

"I shall go to Chamberlain's mission, I ex- 
pect," was the reply. 

"Chamberlain's?" repeated his listener, having 
heard nothing definite of the scheme. 

"Yes," was the reply. 

"That is a grand idea of his, but it will 
cost something." 

"Only for the settees, lamp, desk, and books/' 
replied Sam. 



294 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

" Ah ! " thought the agent, " Chamberlain is 
going to fix his store over into a mission- 
chapel. That was why he refused to throw up 
the lease.'* Aloud he said, — 

"Young Chamberlain is a fine fellow. I like 
him better the more I see of him. His efforts 
at doing good are most commendable. I wish I 
could assist him." 

"Do you mean that.?*' enquired Sam. 

" Certainly." 

" Then give us a ten-dollar bill to get some 
mottoes for the walls," said Sam. 

With a look in his steely eyes that boded 
ill, Lamson wrote a check for the amount, and 
Sam went off highly delighted. As for Lamson, 
he locked the door and indulged in a long, 
silent temper-fit, from which he came out pale, 
smiling as ever, and several degrees more crafty 
and unscrupulous. 

The confession that Sam had made to Lam- 
son was hard, yet it was nothing compared 
with one he was already preparing to make. 
For so many years the leader of the Tigers, 
and so thoroughly identifi.ed with them in their 
various escapades, he knew that only a manly 
confession of faith could give the impression he 
was anxious to give, — could keep out the sus- 
picion that he had been * bought up' by the 



TPrO PENITENTS. 295 

ctiurch in the upper town. With great anxiety 
he waited for the next meeting of the engine- 
company, determined fully to state his new 
faith, and trust in the Lord to impress the 
honesty of his repentance upon the hearts of 
his comrades. At the hour of gathering he was 
on hand, and, as usual, was at once surrounded 
by a circle of admirers. 

"Pass the elixyer to the foreman," suggested 
one, and the decanter was in an instant prof- 
fered to him. 

**No, not any for me," he said. 

"Aren't you ashamed of yourself, to ask the 
president of our 'reform club' to drink, after he 
has been laboring so many years to *put down 
liquor'.?" shouted a jolly voice, and, at the re- 
membrance of Parson Snow's mistake, there was 
a general shout. 

" Take a hand at our table } " pressed a 
couple of the younger men, who were playing 
cards. 

How hard it was to break in on all this real 
heartiness, and do as he had resolved. No man 
there suspected the change that had come over 
him. He almost wished that they were able at 
that moment to see into his heart and recog- 
nize the difference there. The liquor, the pro- 
fanity, were so loathsome to him now; yet the 



296 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

hearty admiration of the men, and their friend- 
liness, was more than ever grateful. 

** You fellers shut up," said Josselyn, with a 
shake of his fist at the card-players, in simu- 
lated wrath. "What we all want,' and what we 
intend to have, is a yarn, — one of Sam's 
stories. Such as no one else can tell. Hey, 
boys?" 

*' That's the talk; a yarn! a story." 

"Will you listen to any story that I may read 
or tell?" 

" Yes, yes ; go ahead ! The first man that in- 
terrupts will be fired down stairs." 

Aware that this promise would be rigidly kept, 
with a prayer for guidance, Sam drew a Testa- 
ment from his pocket, and with some difficulty 
found a certain chapter, and began to read. 
He had selected the story of the Crucifixion, and 
and as he read, the silence in the room grew 
till hardly a sound could be heard but the 
smooth bass of the reader. Slowly, reverently, 
distinctly, the foreman read, and the simple elo- 
quence of the story held them all spell-bo-md. 
When it was finished, a little sigh ran round 
the room, and the rough faces, for the moment 
softened, again assumed their rugged lines. An 
old man, a stranger in the engine-room, although 
one of the puddlers, said in a subdued tone, — 



riVO PENITENTS. 297 



*'Eh, mon, but that is a gude tale. Read it 
agen." 

There was no demurring on the part of th€ 
audience, and Sam, with a new realization of the 
power of the Word, again read the story. The 
tender pathos, the wonderful love of the Saviour, 
and the bitter agony on Calvary, so vividly im- 
pressed itself upon his mind that he could with 
difficulty command his voice; nor was he alone 
in his agitation. The hardened file-workers were 
also affected, and tears stood in the eyes of men 
whose whole lives had been spent in reckless sin. 

" Boys," said Sam, breaking the silence that 
followed, "you asked me tell you a story; I have 
told many during the years we have trained to- 
gether. You have seemed to enjoy them, and I 
am sure I have. Of them all, this one has been 
the best to me ; this is true. I have been unmind- 
ful of it long enough, God knows; but that shall 
no longer be said of me. I believe that Jesus 
Christ died for me, as this book says. His blood 
cleansed me from sin. He is my friend, and 
from this time forth I am going to do all I can 
tJ live as He tells us to live." 

"How is that?" was the inquiry from younger 
men. 

"Just this way: To live without drinking and 
swearing; to keep the Sabbath; to read the Bible, 



293 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

and pray ; to follow His commands ; and to try 
and bring other men to him. And O, how I 
wish you all might know this Saviour ! We have 
been comrades in sin for so long, why can't we 
be in holiness ? I tell you, boys, there is no 
slip-up ' to this matter. It is all down in black 
md white. The Bible says, * For God so loved 
the world that he gave his only beloved Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, 
but have everlasting life.* That whosoever was 
what caught me ; that did the business. I knew 
I was mustered in when I read that. When we 
have scoffed at religion, and made the most fun 
of it, at the bottom of our hearts there was a 
feeling that, after all, there might be something 
in it. We know that this life does not end all. 
We know, when we are drunkards, and swearers, 
and wicked, that we shall have to pay for it 
sometime. Now, why not act on the square, and 
drop all this folly, and get a new start } The 
doors are wide open to-night. I wish some of 
you fellers would start along with me, and own 
the best Friend man ever had." 

When he had finished, there was a long silence 
in the room. His story had made a deep im- 
pression upon the men, but there were one or 
two who hardened their hearts against any thing 
religious ; among them was Josselyn. As <« 



riVO PENITENTS. 299 



glanced about at the faces, tear-stained and soft* 
ened, he flushed with anger, and said, — 

" That 's a mighty interestin' story, and you 
told it well ; but it don't wash with me. Do 
you s'pose I am fool enough to believe that a 
man who loves rum as well as you do, is going 
to give up drinking it for nothing? I ain't for- 
gotten how five years ago Bert Thompson, the 
biggest drunkard in the works, turned suddenly 
sober and started a big revival. I was one of 
his converts, and believed that he was genuine; 
but three weeks later he was drunker than ever, 
and boasting of the good clothes and the money 
the *up-town folks' had give him. That game 
is too old. Fool the church folks all you please, 
but don't try it on us." 

This speech had its effect, and the faces that 
had been softened by better feeling grew hard again. 

"You are the first man, friend or enemy, that 
ever accused me of playing a double game in 
any thing," said Putnam. 

"I s'pose there is a first time for every thing," 
was the sneering reply. 

With a grave dignity, the giant rose to de- 
part, aware that no argument would avail to set 
his action in its true light. Only a consistent 
Christian life could impress upon this company 
the real honesty of the views he had expressed. 



300 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

He stepped down from the platform, and Josselyn 
rose and came forward to meet him. 

*' You are a turn-coat and a traitor. Take 
that ! " he said, slapping him in the face with 
his open hand. 

The men in amazement, almost in horror, 
that one should dare lay hands on so dan- 
gerous a man as Sam had proved himself to 
be when roused, stood gazing at him. They ex- 
pected to see the assailant fall under the sud« 
den and terrible "left-hander" that had almost 
killed the bully of the next village; but Putnam 
stood calm, motionless, looking straight into the 
flaming eyes of the other. 

"Tim," he said, and his voice held a cadence 
of such sweetness that the tears started to many 
eyes. "Tim, there was a time when that blow 
would have cost you much, but that is all past, 
— God bless you ! " 

They stood aside and let him pass, then sat 
down again to their cards and their drinking. 
Josselyn seated himself apart and looked gloomily 
out of the window. When asked to play, he 
answered with a vigorous oath. Soon he got up 
and went out. 

" I '11 bet," said one of the elder grinders, who 
had been deeply affected by the story, — "I'll bet 
that Josselyn will be the next to go as Sam has." 



AN ACCIDENT. 30« 



XXI. 

BY the foot of Steep Street ran the river. 
Through the night and whenever the mills 
were "shut down/' it was full from bank to 
bank ; but as soon as the gates of the canal 
were opened above the dam, most of the water 
was drawn away, and the great boulder-strewn 
river-bed lay open to the sight of all. This was 
the grand play-ground for such children as were 
not in the mill. The little pools of water 
among the slippery rocks held many a prisoned 
pickerel and perch, and when these more valu- 
able of the finny tribe were absent, the place 
abounded in eels, from three to six inches long, 
the catching of which afforded unending sport. 
Many a youngster spent all day trying to cap- 
ture the slippery squirmers, handling dozens, 
retaining none. 

Among those who sometimes came that way 



302 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

and invariably stopped to watch the lively sport 
in the river-bed, was Miriam Whitney. Driving 
as closely as was possible, she enjoyed their 
successes and lamented their failures, and soon 
came to have quite a knowledge of the little 
folks of the street. Among them all, one in 
particular attracted her. He was a cripple, poorly 
dressed, and sadly misshapen, one limb being 
shorter than the other. In spite of this disad- 
vantage, he looked the most alert and intelligent 
of the party. His big black eyes saw all that 
was to be seen, and his stick descended unerr- 
ingly upon the frantic fish that fled for life 
down the shallow rivulets to the pools below. 
The success that attended his efforts made some 
of his companions jealous, and as a result, those 
who dared bullied him as often as possible. 
Yet he had a friend that any of them would 
gladly have secured, in the person of the lady- 
watcher on the further bank. 

One morning she had become so interested, 
that she descended from her phaeton and came 
almost to the water's edge, just below the fish- 
hunting ground, and stood watching the actors. 
As usual, the big brown head of her favorite 
Bvas bobbing in the thick of the fray, and his 
iCft hand clutched a fine string of fish. Sud- 
denly a sturdy, forbidding youngster caught the 



AN ACCIDENT. 303 



fish from his hand and started on a run for the 
opposite bank, the owner close at his heels. 
The thief would probably have escaped with the 
booty, had he not met an unforseen obstacle. 
A tall young lady stood in his path, with such 
a look blazing in her eyes, that he stopped in 
su.lden fear. That instant of hesitation was just 
what the lame boy needed, for springing upon 
his enemy, he overthrew him and by a quick 
wrench recovered his property. 

*'You are a coward!" said Miriam, as the boy 
regained his feet, and stood looking defiantly at 
her. 

"I am no coward, neither. I lickit the school- 
mistress, an* I can lick thee!" was the aston- 
ishing reply. 

"Ye cannot lick her, till ye have me!" said 
the little cripple, stepping in front of his fair 
ally. *'And ye are a coward, all ye daur tackle 
is lame folk and lassies." 

" Course he 's a coward, he dares not tackle 
a lad of his own size ! " yelled the others in 
high glee. 

The little ruffian raised his hand as if to 
strike, when the cripple with a quick motion 
tiipped him up. 

"Wi' ye say ought agin' the leddy?" he 
asked, standing over him with uplifted arm. 



304 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"No," was the surly reply, and the battle was 
won. The defeated one stumped off, followed by 
the rest, except the lame boy. 

"I'd like to tal you my thankfulness. Miss," 
said he gratefully, "yon lad is a sair trial to 
me. Will ye not accept the fish.? They are 
right gude ! " 

"My father is very fond of pickerel, and if 
you are willing to take them to my house, the 
Whitney Place, I will buy them. By the way 
what is your name.?" 

"Jamie Bruce, but I dinna* wish to sell them," 
he answered blushing. 

But the money was already in his jacket- 
pocket, and his friend had gone, with a bright 
smile. 

From this time, Jamie became a proteg6 of 
the fair young lady. Whenever she appeared in 
the vicinity of the mill settlement, — and most 
of the attractive drives in Steelville, had their 
beginning in that direction, — he was on hand to 
shyly give her welcome. His quaint suggestions 
as to desirable places for pleasure excursions, 
together with his unique comments on the life 
of the mill folks, made him a most entertaining 
companion. Miriam had already made up her 
mind to speak to her father about the little 
fellow, and see if something could not be done 



AN ACCIDENT. 305 



to secure for him an education, when there 
came one of those strange happenings that 
sometimes fall even upon the innocent. 

A fire had broken out in the "packing-room" 
of the file-works, and all Steelville was in a fer- 
ment. The up-town engine, a steamer, had 
reached the village soon after the first alarm, 
and was closely followed by almost the entire 
population of that section. The steamer men 
were in high spirits at haviiig reached the place 
nearly as soon as their rivals, the Tigers, and 
were working with might and main, unreeling 
hose, coupling, and getting into shape to 
work. 

The grinding-room hands, led by Swinert and 
Gaffney, formed a line of buckets to the canal, 
and were doing substantial work. Around on all 
sides, surging close to the engines, and blocking 
the way, pressed a dense crowd of people with 
the characteristic lawlessness of town folk. In 
a comparatively open spot on the side hill over- 
looking the scene, somewhat removed from the 
crowd, stood Miss Whitney and her father. 
She was watching every move with the deepest 
interest and pointing out one and another of her 
juvenile acquaintances, much to the amusement 
of her parent. 

The engines were now playing in good earnest, 



306 ms OPPORTUNITY. 

the short "chug-chug," of the steamer vying 
with the clatter of the brakes on the hand 
engine. The town firemen were working for pay, 
the Tigers "for fun," and it was hard to decide 
which put forth the greater exertion. On the 
leading hose, flat on their faces, where the hot 
breath of the flames sent the perspiration roll- 
ing down in streams, only to be dried by the 
thick, black smoke, were Chamberlain and Sam 
Putnam. Thus they lay side by side, holding 
the restive, jerking hose, that like a canvas 
serpent, writhed and twisted a if determined to 
free itself. The foreman of the Tigers had an 
object in choosing this position. Considerable 
feeling existed between his men and the firemen 
of the town. So high had it run at times that 
it had stopped little short of pitched battles. 
The file-workers complained that the Steamer 
men were in the habit of turning their hose on 
them and ducking them whenever opportunity 
offered, and of course they retaliated. So many 
times had these complaints reached Sam, that he 
had determined to discover which side was the 
aggressor. He therefore stationed himself just 
within the threshold of the flame-filled room, 
held to the hose and waited. 

Presently, from the opposite side, where the 
steamer men were in possession of a shattered 



AN ACCIDENT. 30; 

window, came a sudden burst of water, striking 
the wall about a foot above their heads, with a 
force which, if it had been expended on them, 
would have swept them out of the door. Soon 
another dash, then in different places not far 
from them came the savage swish and hiss of 
the solid water-column. The town firemen were 
''feeling for the Tigers," and meant to drown 
them out, The foreman's eyes, filled with smoke 
though they were, snapped dangerously. Just 
then the chief engineer, who was also one of 
the selectmen of the town, crawled up beside 
him, and in a moment his experienced eye took 
in the whole affair. 

"It's that miserable Tom Strong," he said to 
Putnam, "and tht other fellows back him up in 
it. The fire is really under now ; let 's give 
him a lesson." 

Chamberlain was sent to rouse the tired men 
on the brakes to a final effort. A word ex- 
plained the situation, and a stream was sent 
through the canvas channel that was about as 
much as Putnam and the chief engineer could 
manage. When the full force was on, the two 
men braced in the doorwa}^ turned it point 
blank on the window. There was a crash, a 
sputtering yell, and the chief said, with intense 
satisfaction in his voice, — 



308 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"That was a good shot ! Tumbled Tom clear 
out of the window! Now, by the time he picks 
himself up, he won't have any water to fight 
with, for I 've ordered the steamer to stop." 

Meanwhile, not far from where Miriam and her 
father stood, a little woman in neat, black dress 
and white cap, was watching eagerly the sway- 
ing mass of men and boys around the engines. 
Several times she glanced at the young lady as 
if in doubt, and at last advanced, dropped a 
quaint, old-country courtesy, and lifting a face 
such as some of the gentle, "gude wives" have, 
— a face rare, saintly, — said, — 

"Lassie, your eyes are young and strong; will 
ye tal me is that my Jamie doon by the engine 
yon ? You 'd ken him ; he 's the lame laddie." 

Miriam looked long and searchingly in the 
direction named, but could discover no sign of 
the boy. 

"Are you Jamie's mother?" she inquired. 

"No*; I'm his grannie, and I'm sair worried 
about him this moment. It 's this day week he 
started to wark in the mills, 'cause he would na* 
have his grannie gang oot to service fonger. It 's 
in the part of the mill where he warked that 
the fire is.'' 

•* I do not thmk there is any danger," said 
Miriam, soothingly. "All of the hands were out 



AN ACCIDENT, 3^9 



before the fire was under way. I heard one of 
the men say so." 

" The Loord grant that it be so ; but I *m 
much straightened about the lad. I went doon 
and tried to question the man at the engine, 
but he bade me gang back oot of peril, that the 
lad was all reet." 

At this moment there was a sudden move- 
ment toward the blackened doorway, about which 
the heavy smoke hung like a pall. From the 
confused murmur, nothing could be learned but 
that a startling discovery had been made. Mr. 
Whitney had already left the scene, preferring 
to walk home ; and his daughter and the little 
Scotchwoman stood alone, anxiously waiting for 
information as to the sudden excitement. Soon 
the dense throng parted, and Chamberlain, pale 
even through the grime of smoke, hatless and 
coatless, with a slight, limp form in his arms, 
came toward the bridge. 

*' Where is the little fellow's home ? " he said. 

A score of voices responded in subdued ac- 
cents, and led by him the great crowd abandoned 
steamer, hose, and every thing, and surged to- 
ward Steep Street. 

** My heart tells me it' s my lad," said the 
old lady, faintly. "I'm very weak like." 

Miss Whitney passed her arm around her, and 



310 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

and thus they followed slowly the mass of people. 
When they came in sight of the wee cottage 
back of the tenements, they saw that the throng 
had surrounded it. As they neared the place, 
a way opened for them, and the whisper went 
round : — 

** That's the lad's grannie." 

On the tiny bed in the bare, little bedroom 
lay a still figure. It was indeed her lad! 

The little Scotchwoman, with a heart-breaking 
cry, leaned over him, took him in her arms, and 
rained kisses and tears upon the unconscious 
face. 

"Oh, my laddie, my laddie!" she mourned; 
"would to God that I might have deed for ye I 
My pure bairnie! My wee, broken-winged duve; 
I ken that yeer better — aye, far better off now. 
Yeer with the feyther now, and the mother, and 
thy auld grannie is desolate ! Ah ! laddie, if ye 
could but have stayed, that we might have gang 
thegithcr ; but it 's the Loord's will, and we' 11 
no be lang parted I " 

The people slowly and sadly dispersed, talking 
soberly of the young life that had so suddenly 
gone out. From the position in which he had 
been found, it was evident that the boy had 
lingered to shut the tin-clad doors of the lamp 
room, and been caught by the dense smoke and 



AN ACCIDENT, 3^' 



stifled. Rough men, calloused women, felt the 
heroism of the deed, lowered their voices, for- 
got their oaths, and truly mourned. 

In her great grief and loneliness the Scotch- 
woman seemed to cling to Miriam, and the young 
girl, with the true instinct of noble womanhood, 
prepared to spend the night at the cottage. 

One of the firemen, a broad-shouldered young 
man, who had quietly cleared the house of all 
but a few women, was just leaving, when she 
accosted him. 

"Can you find me a messenger, sir.^ I wish 
to send a note to my father, Mr. Whitney." 

" I should be very glad to be the bearer of 
any message for you," was his reply, and she 
then recognized Chamberlain, and the real pleas- 
ure that she allowed herself to show was very 
grateful to him. 

" God bless you ! " he said, holding out his 
hand. "You are doing a noble, womanly deed." 

The strong hand seemed to impart some oi 
its owner's self-command, and she felt strength 
ened. She watched him as he swiftly passed 
through the long street and disappeared, ther. 
shutting the door, returned to her self-imposed 
task of soothing the stricken one, while the 
**auld wives" tenderly prepared the form of 
Jamie ere he should be forever laid out of sight. 



312 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



As Chamberlain passed through the street on 
his way to the Whitney place, he saw Gaffney 
and several others earnestly conversing. 

"Is the boy dead?" asked the grinder. 

"Yes. The physician said that he inhaled the 
smoke and flame, and must have been instantly 
suffocated," was the reply. 

" Poor, little feller ! " said Gaffney, the tears 
springing to his eyes. "Shure it's many times 
I 've seen him carrying water fer his grannie, 
and choppin* wood, when you could see that 
every step and every stroke was pullin* him to 
pieces of pain ! Poor, little Jamie ! shure ye '11 
never ha\e any more backache; the water-pail 
will never again be too heavy fer ye, — poor, little 
ladl" 



BOILER NUMBER SIX, 313 



XXII. 



IX, 



N his tiny room, preparing for the coming Sun- 
day's wrestle with a class of Steep-street boys, 
sat Chamberlain. It was no light task to train 
the infant-minds of the mill youngsters. Their 
views on theological subjects were unique. Not 
at all bashful in expressing them, a teacher of 
timid habit was apt to be disastrously over- 
come. The young man was deeply interested in 
his class, and they returned his affection, even 
going so far as to indulge in shin-knocking and 
hair-pulling, for the honor of sitting next to him. 

As he digested the lesson, a heavy step 
on the stair roused him from his work. The 
door opened, and Sam Putnam entered. 

"Are you willing to lay your papers aside, and 
talk a bit.^" he inquired, awkwardly. 

*'Glad to,'* was the reply. "Sit down." 

The chair groaned as it received its weight; 
but Sam, used to wooden protests, did not notice 
it 



314 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

" Maybe you have heard of my change of 
base?" he remarried, interrogatively. 

"No." 

**Well, I thought perhaps the agent told you 
I had decided to train in the company that you 
joined not long since." 

'*Do you mean that you have given your heart 
to the Lord Jesus } " 

"That is just the checker," said Sam, wiping 
his eyes. "I am in dead earnest. Not a wink 
of sleep have I had for two nights, I am so 
happy. It makes me strong as a giant. Why, 
I believe I could sling a small-sized locomotive 
over my head and not strain myself ! " 

" I am so glad to hear it ! It will be a help 
to us all. Do you know, Mr. Snow, Miss Whit 
tier, and myself have been praying for you foi 
a long time } How it will rejoice the others to 
know that our prayers are answered." 

" What possessed you to pray for me ? " was 
the surprised reply. 

** Steep Street listens to you, — follows you. 
We pra3^ed that you might awake to your re- 
sponsibility." 

**I fflt as if something or 'nother was stirred 
up abont me. For a long time I fought it off, 
but at last had to give in. Bless the Lord that 
I didl The matter about Lamson troubled m^ 



BOILER NUMBER SIX. 3^5 

I determined to have it settled all right, so I 
went to him and refused any longer to do his 
bidding. He was mad at first, but finally when 
I told him the reason, he cooled down and told 
me I done just right. He has given up the 
polish work altogether. Says there was n't any 
money in it, and that he is out of pocket for 
running it. Besides, he owned that it was wrong, 
and that he was sorry. It considerably aston- 
ished me when he said that. He is not in the 
habit of thinking that he has done wrong. Per- 
haps, after all, he is as good as the rest of us." 

" But Tam accuses him of having some fearful 
revenge upon him because he would not consent 
to be one of the polish gang. How is that.^" 

" Have you ever heard the story of Boiler 
Number Six?" 

"No, I have not." 

" Well, that is what Tam refers to when he 
lays his disfigurement to Lamson. I am in no 
hurry, and if you can spend the time I will 
tell it." 

" Do ! I shall be interested," answered Cham 
berlain, sitting back to enjoy one of "Sam's 
stories." 

"This boiler was pretty near thirty feet long," 
began Putnam, crossing his knees and entering 
upon the recital with all the zest of a natural 



3l6 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

Story-teller. "It was built after a plan of Lam- 
son's, and had but a few flues, and those at 
the sides. As it was very large, this manner of 
construction left a large tunnel in the centre, 
capable of holding a score of men in single file. 
One thing curious about this boiler was its faculty 
f jr attracting a sediment. Every little while some 
of us had to go in with hammer and chisel to 
chip off the hard, porcelain-like scale. Possibly 
this was from the defect in the construction. 
However that may be, there was an everlasting 
bother with that boiler. Lamson would hear no 
word against it, and no matter how it acted, 
how much fuel it used, and how little steam it 
produced, he stood up for it. It usually fell to 
my lot to go inside, because I can stand an 
awful amount of heat. And so jealous was the 
agent of its reputation, that he did not wish it 
to be idle a moment hardly, and he would have 
made me go in to clear it before it was fairly 
blown off, had it been possible. I have seen the 
steam at forty pounds in it, and Lamson so 
anxious not to have it cooled too much, that he 
put a man at work unscrewing the manhole 
plate, and blew the packing half across the boiler- 
room. 

" One night word came from the office that I 
must stay and clear out Number Six. I was 



BOILER NUMBER SIX. 317 

tired out at the time, and went in and made a 
row about it. I told Lamson that about half of 
my time was spent inside of that boiler, and 
suggested that he build an office in it, and let 
me stay there all the time. He was kinder pro- 
voked, and flared up a little, but when he found 
that I was really played out, he ordered Tam 
McDonald to help me. I was to do the bossing, 
and he the chipping. Tam was a fine, strong 
man, although small, and did almost all the pip- 
ing in odd comers and in tough places, because 
he was so hardy. He could stand heat almost 
as well as I could, and I was mighty glad of his 
assistance." 

Sam paused and looked back into the past as 
if he had the whole scene before him. 

"It was nearly eleven o'clock before it was 
cool enough for us to enter. Tam went first, 
and I followed. On the hot floor of sheet-iron 
we laid a few short boards, to make it more 
comfortable. I can recall distinctly just how Tam 
looked as he went in with his lantern and his 
tools. He was a fine, ruddy-appearing man, with 
an intelligent air that won him many friends. 
For a long time he worked away, the hammer 
ringing like a bell on the sides of the boiler, 
and the echoes filling our ears till it seemed as 
if we should never hear any thing else. At 



3l8 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

length I noticed that he appeared uneasy. Finally 
he said, — 

" ' Sam, I don't feel that all is right. I have 
an intuition that Lamson intends me harm to- 
night. I wish we were out of this.* 

" I had more faith in Tarn's intuitions and 
second -sights than I was willing to own, and 
though I joked at his superstitions, I could not 
help looking a bit nervously at the little man- 
hole 'way down at the further end of our prison. 
We had not finished our work when Tarn grew 
so fearful that I consented to go out for a few 
minutes, and look around just to satisfy him. 
We started, — I was ahead, of course, for there 
was not room to pass in the queerly-constructed 
interior. I had gone but a little way when I 
heard a quick hiss, and knew that steam had 
been turned into the boiler. The only thing to 
do was to hurry as fast as possible for the 
manhole. With all the strength and quickness 
that I possessed I darted for the little opening, 
Tarn close behind me. The steam coming in 
faster and faster, no longer hissing, but rattling 
against the expanding flues and fast-heating sides. 
Swiftly we hurried, but swifter came the steam. 
I loved Tam, and would far rather had him in 
front of me, for in spite of my fear of the 
steam, my faith in my own probable escape from 



BOILER NUMBER SIX, 3^9 

harm was just what every young, strong man 
has. 

" Queerly enough, a prayer that my mother 
taught me came into my mind, and repeated 
itself over and over. The few seconds that we 
were in passing the length of the boiler seemed 
like ages. Never in my life have I exerted my 
self to get ahead, or appeared to progress so 
slowly. At length I swung myself out of the 
manhole, and turned to help Tam. He had 
dropped just under it, right in the steam. Muf- 
fling my face, I reached down and drew him 
out just as one of the workmen shut off the 
steam. 

"For a long time Tam was very sick. When 
he recovered, he was so disfigured that his own 
mother would not have known him. The shock 
also affected his mind, and he seemed unable 
to reason clearly. He had told me all about 
Lamson's enmity, and now he insisted that the 
agent had done this in order to assure his re- 
venge. That was absurd. Lamson had nothinj 
to dc with Tam's being hurt, further than. Ijis 
sending him to help me was concerned. An;l 
when he heard that Tam charged him with it, 
he was fearfully worked up, and he did all he 
could to shut him up. He finally succeeded iu 
having him put in an insane asylum. But ha 



320 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

did n*t stay long. He escaped, and was not 
heard of for a long time. At last it was dis- 
covered that he was living in the stone-cutters' 
shed, in the rear of the mill. Lamson was going 
to have him sent away at once, but one or two 
of us stepped forward, and gave him to under- 
stand that we should not allow any more inter- 
ference with Tarn. So he was let alone, and 
since then he has lived where you saw him." 

*'Then it was not really his fault that Tam 
became so disfigured.?" 

"Not at all. He knew nothing about it, — 
but Tam will always believe that it was his 
revenge." 

"If I am not mistaken, Tam was at the fire 
in the mill the other day," remarked Cham- 
berlain. 

"Yes, that is another of his queer notions; he 
will go miles to a fire. People about here 
do not know who he is, as a general thing, yet 
he is always on hand when there is a blaze. 
He *s a worker, too, when there is any thing to 
do. I have seen him do things that I would not 
dare attempt. Did you ever hear tell of the 
* Coffin house' fire?" 

"No, tell me, please." 

"It was several years ago, — soon after Tam 
escaped from the 'sylum. He used, at times, to 



BOILER NUMBER SIX. Z2\ 

see me and talk things over, and was sensible 
on everything except his own trouble. Any refer- 
ence to that would rouse him at once. So I 
used always to avoid mentioning it. One even- 
ing, as I was speaking with him down back of 
the mill, he all of a sudden held his head up 
and snuffed the air ; just as a horse sometimes 
does ; then he looked around in a frightened way 
and says, — 

** * Sam, there is a fire up on the street ! * 

" * Nonsense.^ ' says I. 

"* There is, and iii a few minutes there will be 
An alarm.' 

" I did n't take any stock in what he said, 
but sure enough, within five minutes came a 
rousing alarm, and we were all putting as hard 
as we could, first for the engine-house, and then 
for the fire. It was in a queer-shaped old tene- 
ment-house that was called the * Coffin house' 
from its shape; the name just described it. How 
many families were crowded into it, would be 
hard to say, but when we got there the street 
was filled with all sorts of household goods, half- 
dressed children, crying women, and swearing 
men. The house was only an old shell anyway, 
and in spite of our best efforts, the flames 
had it all their own way. We pumped all of 
the wells dry, and finally went to the river, and 



322 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

then had to stop every few minutes to put in a 
fresh section of hose, it burst so often. 

"When the whole building was one mass of 
blaze, with the exception of the end furthest 
from the street, word went round that an old, 
blind woman, who occupied an attic, had been 
forgotten and was still in the building. The 
women fairly shrieked when they heard it, and 
all the men could do was to help on the 
* brakes,' or stand and stare. We were n't well 
provided with ladders, and even if we had been, 
none could have gone into any part of the upper 
stories. I had come up from the river to look 
after the hose-men, when the story was told me, 
and almost at the same instant I caught sight 
of Tam. 

"He had just been informed that the old lady 
was within, for he looked about with a wild air, 
then made straight for a big apple-tree that 
leaned over the tenement. Its leaves were already 
crisping, and its twigs curling and sizzling with 
the heat. Like a squirrel, Tam climbed the 
trunk, springing from branch to branch, till he 
reached the big one that hung over the gravelled 
roof. No tight-rope gymnast could have run along 
this, easier or surer than he. An instant later, 
and he stood on the roof, the flames curling up 
over the eaves on all sides of him. 



BOILER NUMBER SIX. 323 

"Not willing to have him left entirely without 
support, I climbed part way up the tree myself, 
and shielding my face with my coat, watched his 
movements. Whether or not any one had told 
him which skylight was the right one, I don't 
know, but he did not hesitate a minute, but ran 
up to one, kicked it in, and swung himself 
through. After a little, he jumped out again, and 
then reached down and drew up the old woman. 
She wasn't bigger than a ten-year-old, hardly, and 
could n't have weighed over eighty pounds, at the 
most. Tam lifted her as easy as if she been a 
baby, and brought her to the edge of the building. 
Then for a minute he seemed at loss, till he 
saw me. Before I could decide what was best, 
he sung out, — 

"* Watch out, Sam Putnam!' and tossed the 
little woman right into my arms. I had my legs 
wound round the tree with, what I thought, was 
a good hold, but it almost upset me. Still I 
managed to cling on and catch the old woman. 
She was trembling all over, poor body, and mut- 
tering prayers, but she never screeched or strug 
gled a bit. By the time I had recovered myself, 
Tam was with me, and between us we got her 
down to the ground in safety." 

"The people must have gone wild over such 
a rescue." 



3-4 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

*'They did; but Tarn disappeared at once, and 
even I could n't find him for nearly two weeks. 
I don't know as I would have found him then 
if he had n't been praying ; and speaking of that, 
his prayers have been to me more than words 
can express. It was poor Tam McDonald that 
kept alive in my breast the wish for a better life. 
He did not know it, but the influence of his 
life upon me was more than that of any other 
Christian that I ever knew." 

"This fact of our individual influence frightens 
me," said the younger man, musingly. "It seems 
always with us, and strongest when we are off 
our guard." 

"Do you feel that way.?" was the surprised 
query. " Why, I s'posed that was peculiar to me ! 
And I 've wished with all my heart that there 
was in the Bible some prayer that I could get 
hold of, that I might keep a Christian tongue 
in my head when I am off guard." 

"*Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: 
Keep the door of my lips,' " repeated Chamber- 
lain, reverently. 



GAFFNEY'S LUCK. 3^5 



XXIII. 

^^ra'THERE is never any bad accident happens 
iP to a drunken man," said Swinert, to the 
crowd who were sitting on the " casting bench," 
eating their dinners. **Now, there is Gaffney. I 
have seen him drunk as a fiddler, in all 
sorts of dangerous places, and he always came 
out straight. If a sober man had gone through 
with one-half of what he has, he would have 
been killed a half-dozen times." 

" That *s true," was the universal assent. 

" Now, when he went to McCloskey's funeral, 
and drove his team off of the railroad bridge, 
killing the horse and smashing the carriage, he 
was not hurt a whit. Any sober man would 
have been dashed to pieces." 

"No doubt of it," agreed all. 

"And when he fell under the fly-wheel of the 
engine and had the clothes all scorched off of 
his back, but came out as lively as a cricket, 



326 ffis OPPORTUNITY. 

— a decent, honest man would have been knocked 
to inch bits." 

^'He would that." 

"Then there was the time he got full, and 
tried to hang himself in Bob Jones's barn, and 
the rope broke three times. S'pose it would 
have broken with a teetotaler } " 

" No, sir ! " chimed the audience. 

The whistle blew, and the group scrambled 
down from their seats and hurried away to 
work. At the end of the procession staggered 
Gaffney. He had been close by when they 
were discussing him, but was too drunk to 
catch the drift of their remarks. There was 
something a little singular about his numerous 
escapades. He never seemed to get badly in- 
jured, and yet he was continually in trouble. 
So famed was he for his escapes, that the 
phrase, *'Ga£fney's luck," was often used in the 
mill to express a never-varying good fortune 
that pulled its possessor through the most 
threatening disasters. 

With a jolly, unstable gait, he followed in the 
rear of the crowd. He was a privileged char 
acter in the mill, and was allowed to go and 
come as he pleased. With no thought of going 
to work, he entered the grinding-room, and 
looked about for amusement. He usually chose 



GAFFNErS LUCK. 32? 

this room for larks, as the men were all on 
piece-work and were not obliged to attend closely 
to their occupation at all times. Among the 
grinders was a young Frenchman, whom it was 
his special delight to torture. He was a good, 
conscientious workman, but very timid. When- 
ever he saw his tormentor coming, even though 
the latter had no hostile design, he turned scar- 
let, and fidgeted in his seat, and, if possible, 
escaped. He now saw him, and, slipping down 
from his lofty seat in the wooden saddle over 
the whirling grindstone, he hurried off to a safe 
distance and stood, anxiously regarding his foe. 

Gaffney looked at him in ludicrous contempt, 
and then made his way up to the stone. The 
great wheel of granite was whirling so rapidly 
and evenly that it seemed not to move. It was 
beautifully "trued," and in just the condition to 
do the best work. With particular care and 
cumbrousness the drunken wag climbed into the 
saddle and picked up a file, then glanced over 
his shoulder, in exact imitation of the frightened 
Frenchman. The caricature caught the eyes of 
the workmen, and they roared with laughter. 
The one to whom the stone belonged came 
slowly and hesitatingly forward, sorely afraid to 
venture near, and just as much afraid to stay 
away. 



32S HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

■ - ' ' > < 

"Look here, Parley Voo. See me grind for 
you. You should put the end of the file on 
the stones, so as to make a decent little groove, 
like this," remarked Gaffney. 

rlc placed the end of the file as stated, and 
dug a deep grove in the smooth surface. The 
Frenchman uttered a cry of anguish. 

**Hear him applaud me," said Gaffney. "No 
bokays, please. I 'm a very modest man, I am. 
Let me do as I wish, and don't compliment 
me." 

The crowd shouted in applause, for the 
Frenchman, with his quiet, cowardly ways, and 
his money-getting and money-saving qualities, was 
not a favorite. To be sure, two or three of 
the older men spoke in disapproval, but they 
were not heard, nor did they expect to be. To 
the undisguised delight of the lookers-on, Gaff- 
ney still sat in the wooden saddle, ludicrously 
imitating the motions of his victim. It was 
cruel sport. The Frenchman suffered so that he 
danced up and down in agony. From one to 
another he looked for relief, with extravagant 
gestures and unintelligible appeals, but he only 
met mirthful faces, devoid of sympathy. In the 
midst, however, of their laughter and shouting, 
there came a fierce crash. The air was filled 
with bits of plank, dust, and debris. For an 



GAFFNEY'S LUCK. 329 



instant none knew what had happened. Then 
they saw that the swift-whirling stone, over 
which the drunken man had been seated, had 
torn loose from its shaft, and, in three frag- 
ments, had crashed through the partitions, in a 
mad flight into the yard. A dozen feet away 
lay a helpless figure, the blood slowly oozing 
from his mouth. It was Gaffney. The rough 
men took him up carefully, and bore him away 
to a quiet room, where his wounds could be 
examined, and the crowd kept at bay. After an 
anxious half-hour on the part of the men, word 
came that the injuries were not serious, — that 
he would recover. 

"Just as I said," remarked Swincrt. "You 
cannot kill a drunken man; some power pro- 
tects them." 

"Gaffney's luck," echoed the crowd. 

There was more truth in the saying than 
they knew, for that accident was the best good 
fortune that ever the poor fellow had. He wa3 
taken to a 'cottage not far from the mill, as hii5 
home was not fit to nurse a savage in, 
and his wife was away on a drunken spree. 
Here he had an opportunity to reflect on his 
past life. He could get no liquor, and after the 
first crazy thirst passed away, he began, with 
the peculiar philosophical spirit that he possessed, 



330 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



to institute comparisons, and think things over, 
in a manner that would have been impossible, 
had he been drinking his usual allowance. 

One afternoon, when deep in his cogitations, 
a knock fell on the door, and in came a young 
lady. The sick man glanced up in surprise, 
and a frown gathered on his brow. He didn't 
want to be "missionaried." 

"Excuse me. Miss," he said, "but perhaps 
you didn't know that I was sufferin' from 
small-pox } " 

" No, sir, I did not know it," she said, as 
she seated herself. "This is Mr. Gaffney, is it 
not, and how is the broken arm.^" 

"Better," was the surprised reply. "Say, — 
Miss, is my name on the door-plate?" 

"I think not, I do not believe the house has 
such a thing." 

"I know it didn't before I was sick, but 
I didn't know but they had put one on it 
for the use of the ministers, and col porters, and 
evangelists. It saves their knocking and en- 
quiring." 

" I came from the mission-school. My name 
Is Whitney," said the lady. 

"Well, I'll be blamed! Did you think 
maybe you might get me to sign the pledge ? " 

"Perhaps so." 



GAFFNEY'S LUCK 33 ^ 

" And give up smoking, too ? " 

"If you feel inclined." 

"Stop cussin' and swearin', of course?" 

" Certainly/' 

"Join the mission-school, and become pious?" 

" I hope so." 

"Well, I don't know about that. Where is 
John Temple?" 

That question was one that every scoffer in 
the village asked, when he intended to knock 
any religious fact to pieces. 

"I do not think that is your affair. The 
Lord knows where he is, and all he requires of 
you, is to get in the right place yourself." 

"Well, I was quite impressed by a little talk 
that I had with Mr. Chamberlain, not long ago, 
but when he pointed out Temple as an example, 
and I found him howling drunk, it rather took 
the edge off his remarks." 

" Let us not talk of Temple. He must answer 
to God alone. I believe that one day he will 
be saved, even if he did fall in so terrible a 
manner. The question is, are you willing to be 
saved from your appetite for liquor?" 

" Certainly, I am. Miss, if it can be done, 
which it can't," was the positive reply. " You 
can't argue me into that." 

" I cannot argue at all, but I know what I 



332 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

believe,'* replied Miriam, with a tremble in her 
voice. " There a^e numbers praying for you 
every day. We want you to know that at 
half-past six every evening we pray that the 
Lord will heal your body, and heal your soul, 
and we believe He is going to do it." 

** It 's an awful waste of time," said GafFney. 
"Now if you prayed for Sam Putnam, who is 
■some good, it would be worth while, but to 
pray for me ! Pshaw ! I call it foolishness." 

"We did pray for Sam Putnam, and he has 
joined us, and is praying for you." 

"Why don't he come and talk to me, and 
argue a little .? " 

"All the argument necessary you will find in 
this Bible, which is his gift to you. He pre- 
fers to spend his time in praying for you." 

"Well, I hope you will succeed," said Gaffney. 
as Miriam took leave. 

"We shall," was the reply, with a bright 
smile. 

Moving as much as his bandages would per- 
mit, the wounded man reached out for the vol- 
ume that Putnam had sent. During the visit 
of the fair, young missionary, he had been 
regarding it with an interest that amounted 
almost to eagerness, although veiled by a pre- 
tense at skeptical argument. Once in bis hand, 



GAFFNETS LUCK. 333 



he sank back exhausted, but with a look of 
content on his face that his sufferings would 
hardly warrant, 

" So, they are sure of success, are they ? " 
he murmured, a glow appearing on his cheek. 
** Sure to save me. And they are praying for 
you, Gaffney, and my old woman, too, God pity 
her ! She was once a decent, tidy body, as fine- 
looking as any of them. Mayhap if she had got 
a better man she might have been all right 
now. Praying for me ! Weil, that beats every 
thing. I wish they knew how happy that makes 
me feel, only I should never have the cheek to 
tell them, after all IVe been and done." 

With a motion of affection and reverence, he 
slipped Putnam's gift under his pillow, and, still 
holding his hand on it, closed his eyes, not to 
sleep, but the better to think. Breaking rudely 
into his day-dreams came a heavy step on the 
stairs, the latch lifted, and Josselyn came in. 
His face was pale, and he looked exceedingly 
disturbed. 

"How do you get on?" he enquired of the 
invalid. 

'' First-class." 

"Be round in time for the monthly meeting?" 

The other shook his head. 

" You won't be well enough to come ? " per- 



334 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

sisted Josselyn, with an accent of eagerness that 
he seemed unable, wholly, to suppress. 

Gaffney eyed him distrustfully. 

"I suppose," he said, a dangerous light com- 
ing into his eyes, and the muscles on his bared 
arm swelling as his hand convulsively grasped 
the hidden volume, — *' I suppose if you saw a 
poor, tired sailor, wrecked, crawling up on a rock, 
with only just strength enough to get on to it, 
you would go down and shove him back into 
the water, and then laugh at his drowning agony ; 
would n't you t " 

" What do you mean t '* was the choked 
reply. 

"Why, if you saw a man, who had never 
done you any harm, trying, by the giace of 
God, to get rid of a habit that was destroying 
him, and you knew his weakness, you would pull 
him down and get him back into it, would n't 
you.?'* 

"I know I am guilty; but if ever a man has 
suffered for such a sin, it has been me. At 
the time, it seemed a little thing. I put the boys 
up to it for a mere lark; and though I in no wa) 
justify my action, they carried it further than 1 
expected." 

"Yet that plan dashed me down when I had 
at last climbed upon the Rock, — when I was 



GAFFNEY'S LUCK, 335 

helped upon the Rock," said Gaffney, a wail in 
his voice that made the other shiver. 

"Then you intend to go to the monthly meet- 
ings ? You will take up the old life ? " asked 
Josselyn. 

"Take it up again, — no!'* thundered the sick 
man, amazed at what he deemed the other's anxiety 
to keep him among the liquor-drinkers. " I have 
got my lesson. I shall know enough to keep out 
of temptation now ; I was too sure last time, and 
I have suffered for it. Now I shall keep away 
from all sight and smell of liquor, — I've learned 
my lesson." 

"Thank God!" ejaculated Josselyn. 

"What for.?" 

" That you are saved ; that you are not going 
back to the old life. Do you know that / have 
prayed? — that I have been on my knees, asking 
God to keep you from going to ruin on my ac- 
count } And I believe he has heard my prayer." 

Gaffney grew very sober. Finally he said, — 

"I'm mighty glad for you; but I've just found 
out something that makes me feel kinder ba/I, 
too." 

"What is it?" 

"Well, now you were praying for me, and I 
was feeling bitter toward you. If I had been the 
least sort of a Christian, I would have been p^ay- 



33^ HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

ing for you. Well, I believe^ anyhow, and as 
soon as I can, I '11 ketch on to the rest. Give 
us your hand, old man ; we will travel this new 
path together. And when you go into the mill 
to-morrow morning, and some one mentions *Gaff- 
ney's Luck,* just tell them of this last good for- 
tune that has come to me. Tell them to drop 
L\ and I'll give them the whole story." 



LAMSON'S TRIUMPH, 337 



XXIV. 

fOR some reason, a great an(f sudden change 
had come over Miriam Whitney. Not that she 
was less lovable or less cheerful when among 
her friends, but she seemed to have lost all in- 
terest in the affairs at the North Church, 
and if one could observe her closely, it would 
be seen that she constantly avoided the places 
where Chamberlain was likely to be found. As 
a strong friendship had sprung up between them 
prior to this, it troubled the young man not a 
little. After the death of Jamie, the cripple, 
Miriam had done much to comfort the stricken 
grandmother, and in her frequent visits found a 
warm welcome. 

" You 're looking poorly, dear," said the keen- 
eyed little woman, laying down her knitting- 
needles and surveying her visitor anxiously, on 
one of these occasions. 



33^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"I do not feel very strong," acknowledged 
Miriam, flushing. "I haven't slept well of late." 

"Do you lie with yeer head to the Noorth.?" 

**I don't know," said she, faintly smiling. 

"Now, Mr. Chamberlain, the last time he 
called, were advising me aboot this verra point, 
as I had been telling him that since Jamie's 
-death I were wakeful. He said that there 
were those who believed that if one turned their 
bed so that the head was Noorth, and the foot 
Sooth, one could sleep better. But he said when 
he were sleepless, he started out and walked all 
the neet, and then next neet he slept. And what 
led me to think of him, there he is yonder, 
coming down the hill." 

The young lady looked up the street. The 
erect, familiar figure was rapidly nearing the 
house. 

"He won't come in here, will he?" she said 
helplessly. 

"He rarely passes without a word," responded 
the old lady, complacently. 

"I don't want to see him, I can't see him!" 
said Miriam, plaintively. " What shall I do } " 

" Poor bairn, your nerves are all unstrung ; ye 
can slip into the bedroom yonder and lie doon 
and rest ; he '11 not be long here." 

With a thankful smile, she gathered up her 



LAMSOrrS TKIUAfPff. 3 9 

wraps, slipped into the cosy room, closed tl • 
door, and in a moment heard the pleasant voic 
of the caller mingling with that of the Scotcl 
woman. 

"I brought down that volume of Burns 
Poems," she heard him say, ** Burns has always 
been a favorite of mine. I remember when a 
youngster, poring over the book by the hour. 
Indeed I think it is from him that I imbibed 
my love for the Scotch." 

"My gude-mon used to read the * Cotter's 
Saturday Neet,' " said Mrs. Bruce, with a slight 
tremble in her voice. " It 's lang years since 
I 've heard it. Would it be asking too much if 
I wished ye to read a part of it.?" 

"Not at all, if you can stand my pronuncia- 
tion," was the reply. 

Throughout the whole of the sweet poem, the 
rich, strong voice of the young man rose and 
fell in harmony with the matchless thought. 
The sound welled in through the wide crack 
over the sagging bedroom door, and the trem- 
bling girl in the chintz-covered rocking-chair, 
fearful almost ' to breathe, lest her presence be 
suspected, hid her face in her hands, while the 
hot tears flowed unrestrained. 

"Ye need not tell me that yeer mother was 
not a Scotch lassie," said the old lady, wiping 



340 HIS OPPORTUmTY. 

her eyes. " How else could ye have gotten the 
dialect so perfect ? " 

" I think it must be because I have always 
enjoyed talking with your people," replied he, 
smiling, "but my pronunciation does not suit 
me yet. The genuine, fascinating burr is not 
there, and I am doubtful if any but a native 
of Scotland can ever acquire it." 

"Ye should hear some of the elocutionary 
students from the town read it," said Mrs. 
Bruce. " Eh, it 's enough to make one weep. 
They have it mixed up with 'Irish, and such 
folly as they make of it is beyond compreheen- 
sion." 

"I have heard them. They are thought very 
fine by some audiences, but they should never 
air themselves before the Scotch." 

Chamberlain took out his watch, and, looking 
at it with some surprise, said : " It is later than I 
thought, I must go." Then, taking the old lady's 
hand, ^ he asked if there was any thing that she 
lacked, as kindly and gently as if he had 
been her son. 

When the little woman entered the bedroom, 
Miriam was sobbing bitterly. 

"Eh, my poor bairnie, here is trouble of which 
you friends ken naething ; heartache that nane 
but woman can bear. Is not that it, lassie?" 



LAMSON'S TRIUMPH. 341 

"Yes," was the faint response. 

*' Aweel, darling, it 's our lot to suffer. I have 
felt at times as if the end had come, as if I 
could not stand more. Those for whom I would 
gladly have given life have been taken. I 
have wept till my tears are all gone. Now I 
can but pray to the Loord for help." 

The little woman soothed, petted, and crooned 
over her until the storm of grief passed, and 
then bathed her face and eyes, and arranged 
her hair. 

"Forgive an auld wife's question, dearie," she 
said, as Miriam stood ready to depart. "Are 
ye quite sure that you are right in yeer sor- 
row?" 

"Yes," was the answer, with decision that 
left no room for misunderstanding, "very, very 
sure." 

"Aweel," soliloquized the Scotchwoman, after 
her visitor had gone, " It *s a sore pity if they 
maun not be brought thegither. So bonny and 
weel-matched a pair are seldom seen. I must 
not, I daur not meddle with it, but if matches 
are made in heaven, the Loord grant that this 
may be ain." 

As for Miriam, although not for the world 
would she have acknowledged an affection for 
Chamberlain to any of her friends in the upper 



342 ms OPPORTUNITY. 

town, yet with lowly Mrs. Bruce she felt wholly 
safe. Possessed of a most positive conviction that 
there was an insurmountable barrier between 
them, — a barrier, not of station, nor of wealth, 
but one arising from a clouded and disgraceful 
early record on his part. The knowledge that 
she had all came from Lamson, and it was not 
wonderful that he maligned his rival to the best 
of his ability, and did it in a way that made it 
seem the merest accident of speech. 

During the past few months Lamson had been 
a frequent visitor at the Whitneys*. With unob- 
trusive persistence he worked his way into the 
almost daily presence of the father and daughter, 
until he came to be an accustomed member of 
the small family circle. Miss Whitney at first 
entertained a mild dislike for him, but the cour- 
tesy with which he ever addressed her and the 
tact he exercised in letting her alone, made her 
grateful, and she soon learned to tolerate him. 

In place of the sharp pain that she had felt 
when she had learned that Chamberlain was so 
weak and unworthy, came an indifference to almost 
every thing that took the zest and the poetry 
out of life. Under cbe ordeal she had grown pale, 
and her voice had a faint, hardly noticeable 
plaintiveness that told of tears shed in secret. 
it was pitiful, or would have been had one pen- 



LAMSOirS TRIUMPH. 343 

etration sufficient to read her beautiful face, to 
note the effort made by her to be interested in 
those around her, and in quiet charities, and the 
failure of it all. 

Realizing her own weakness, she came to ad- 
mire the strength of the silent gentleman who 
was so often, before her. By degrees he began to 
lead her into conversation, in which she, strangely 
enough, did most of the talking. 

The power that he exercised in interesting her 
in things to which she had thought herself for- 
ever careless, surprised, fascinated her. Mingling 
with the half -smothered pain in her heart, came 
the distinct assertion of her father, told with 
pleasure, that this man loved her. It insinuated 
itself more than once into her mind as she 
talked with- him. It was only when she was 
with him that she indulged this idea ; it was 
only when his keen eyes were sparkling with 
power that she felt thrilled by some poet from 
which he quoted. It was only in his immediate 
presence that the image of her love grew misty 
and far away. When she was alone, the old 
ache was there, and the dreary helplessness that 
had been lifted for a few moments by the will 
of the lawyer, closed around again with a deeper 
gloom. 

Gradually the intimacy between Mr. Whitney 



344 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

and the agent, which had been the excuse for 
his many calls at the house, grew less, while a 
new one was formed between the latter and 
Miriam. Just how it was that the father drifted 
into the background and changed places with 
his daughter could hardly be told. That it was, 
ere he was aware, the established order of 
things, the gentleman finally discovered, and was 
far from being displeased. 

Resistance to a hidden, unsuspected foe, is out 
of the question. An individual who gains advan- 
tage after advantage, without the least show of 
exultation, who conquers but indulges no triumph, 
is an enemy to be feared. Such was Lamson. 
No sign that he knew anything of the power 
that he exerted came to the surface. If Miss 
Whitney was silent and downcast, and did not 
choose to be entertained, he made her forget 
her troubles by some word or thought, in which 
there was infinite skill. When she discovered 
that in spite of adverse resolve, she was for- 
saking her clinging misery, and felt a flash of 
anger against him as the direct cause of her 
forgetfulness, he was unmoved as ever, and ap- 
parently had no knowledge of what he had 
accomplished. This marble calmness was the 
fortress of his strength. Once assumed, he was 
impenetrable. To be sure he recalled the first 



LAMSOirs TRIUMPH. 345 

of his visits at the Whitney mansion, and the 
coolness with which his advances toward Miriam 
had been received. He remembered the favor 
shown Chamberlain, until checked by his insinua- 
tions, and the remembrance of it, even in the 
present plenitude of his power, galled him. He 
was not suspected of vanity, yet his conceit 
was overpowering ; although so determined was 
the cast of his character, that it was ever held 
under and hidden from view. His guile partook 
of the features of positive genius. Were Mr. 
Whitney with all of his shrewdness and his keen 
intuitions questioned, he could not have advanced 
a single word or expression of Lamson's, that 
mirrored aught but good. This mxay have been 
in part due to the influence that his place in 
the church inspired. But a more excellent reason 
was that he had the faculty for playing the part 
of a Christian gentleman to the last limit of 
perfection. 

In a measure, Miriam felt as did her father. 
There was nothing with which to find fault. 
He was so courteously master of himself at all 
times ; never intruding ; ever foremost in giving 
to all charitable enterprises, — she had absolutely 
nothing to reinforce the vague distrust in her 
heart, and was at a loss to comprehend it. Often 
she wondered what she really did feel toward 



34^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

this omnipresence in faultless broadcloth. If she 
could not divine, he well knew. His finger was 
on her pulse and marked its every beat. The 
whole violent nature of the mill agent was con- 
centrated in, not a desire, but a resolve to marry 
Miriam Whitney. Whatever stood in the way 
should be removed or trampled under foot. Who- 
ever interfered, let him beware. A single, un- 
flinching resolve is a fearful thing to face. All 
that grit and pluck mean to the sporting man 
were expressed in his fixed determination, and 
he was on that ground alone almost certain to 
succeed. 

The majority of people plod through life eye- 
less, earless. Broadsides of hints and suggestions 
as to the character, disposition, aims, and abili- 
ties of those with whom they have to do are 
fired at them, and they know nothing of them. 
They persuade themselves that they can read 
character, while they know not the initial letter 
of its alphabet. Worthies of this ilk pronounced 
Lamson a perfect gentleman, — a modest, retiring 
man, whose quietness was akin to diffidence. To 
the few who could read the average man, he 
was distant from pride of birth and station ; none 
in the upper settlement knew him as he was. 
Of all the members of the North Church not 
one read his character with the single exception 



LAMSOirs TRIUMPH. 347 

of Chamberlain, and he was not likely to bruit 
his knowledge to the world at large. 

All through the summer, — the last summer of 
Chamberlain's apprenticeship, — this quiet, unsus- 
pected wooing went on. At every move Miriam 
lost, Lamson gained. In his moments alone his 
face wore a look of proud strength, — hers one of 
unrelieved sadness. At times she half realized 
her position, but was without force to resist. 
No word of love had this silent visitor spoken, 
yet he felt as sure of possessing her as if she 
wore the betrothal ring. His thought was not 
that he should win, but that he had won. 

Since he had become so intimate with the 
Whitneys, the visits to the mill village had be- 
come less frequent. Not that Miriam had lost 
her interest in the little ones that she taught 
when opportunity offered, but rather from the 
excuses made by her father for staying away. 
It did not occur to either that this was due to 
Lamson's influence, yet that was it. He said 
very little about the operatives. The fact that 
they were wretched from drink and persistent 
neglect, was sadly acknowledged by him, and he 
had expressed in words a certain sympathy for 
them, but he could do nothing to help them. 
Miriam, in the first flush of her enthusiasm, had 
appealed to him to do something for Steep Street, 



34^ HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

and had been quieted by the promise of an in- 
vestigation, but it never came. None are so hard 
to combat as those who will not fight. The 
lawyer quietly held his own way without com- 
ment, and his iron will and great tact gradually 
drew the little family away from the mill folk. 
With Chamberlain out of the field, it was not 
hard to make them forgetful of the operatives. 
For a time it seemed as if all that had been 
done was to be entirely swept away by the 
wave of wickedness that rolled in. Lamson, per- 
haps, more than any other, saw what was going 
on, yet he viewed it calmly, apparently neither 
lifting his hand to help nor to binder. 



**AS THE FOOL DIETH.'^ 349 



XXV. 

^e/is • ll)e • K00I • y lef^. 

N .spite of Mrs. Bowman's energetic and fre- 
quently repeated protests, Pfaff had remained 
at her house. At first, he had occupied Cham- 
berlain's room, but that being too near the 
noisy street, he was moved to one in the 
rear. For more than a week he was a very 
sick man. In his delirium, he divulged so much 
of the raid on the store, that, had Chamberlain 
not known all about it from Sam Putnam, he 
would have been fully posted. When he became 
sane he was very uneasy, and made one of the 
most thankless of patients. Mrs. Bowman ex- 
erted herself to do all that could possibly be 
done for him, but he was not slow to show his 
dislike for her. 

Whether he ever had a conscience is a ques- 
tion. No signs of such a regulator were ever 
detected by those who were familiar with him. 
While he remained there, he did not lack for 
subjects to think about ; for, during his conva- 



3 so HtS OPPORTUNITY. 

lescence, his landlady daily suggested to him the 
many evil deeds that he had committed, and 
warned him of the terrible punishment that was 
in store for him. 

Since the mission had been started, numbers 
of the lady teachers had made it a point to 
call on the sick in the mill village. Pfaff was 
not neglected in these calls. No matter what 
was said, whether he was read with, or prayed 
for, he preserved the same imperturbable coun- 
tenance, and his thoughts, if he had any, were 
never divulged. There were those who scoffed 
at the idea of calling on the sick in this manner, 
and inquired what good it did, pointing to Pfaff 
as an example. Could they have gauged the 
good will that it brought forth, from the look- 
ers-on among the mill folks, their question would 
have been fully answered. 

As the sick man gained in health, he was 
tormented by a raging thirst for stimulants. He 
suggested to the physician, several times, in a 
whisper, that a little whiskey would do him 
more good than any thing else, but his hint was 
quickly rebuked. Not understanding Chamberlain, 
he attempted to bribe him to bring a pint, of- 
fering a fabulous price, and was astonished at 
his refusal. He tried every way that his inge- 
nuity could devise, but in each case was check 



*'AS THE FOOL DIETH." 35 > 

mated. A careful watch was kept over him, 
and, lest he should, in a fit of momentary 
strength, attempt to go for it himself, his boots 
and most of his clothes were put away and 
locked up for safe keeping. Now that he was 
gaining so rapidly, and entirely free from de- 
lirium, a watcher was not needed. Chamberlain, 
however, sleeping across the hall, left the door of 
his room ajar, so that he could hear any movement. 

One night, when all in the house were asleep, 
except himself, Pfaff arose, shut the door, and 
lighted a lamp. With a trembling, nervous 
strength; he hunted for his clothes, and grew 
black with rage at not finding them. Urged by 
the terrible thirst that had for days been tor- 
menting him, he resolved to go to his store and 
satisfy it, come what would. He had no fear of 
meeting any one on the street, as it was late and 
was mid-week. The fact that his boots were re- 
moved, only increased the obstinacy of his purpose 

He hesitated a little over the absence of coal 
and vest, and ended by wrapping a comforter 
over his shoulders. Thus equipped, he stole out 
of the room. With every faculty quickened by 
his mad desire, he opened and closed doors, 
never allowing a knob to rattle, or a hinge to 
squeak. If doors stuck at the bottom, he firmly 
^ifted up till they swung free. His nervous 



352 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

acuteness forewarned him of a creaking stair, or 
a loose banister-round, and he descended to the 
basement as quietly as a shadow of the night. 

The last barrier was successfully overcome, 
and he stood in his stocking-feet, wrapped in the 
comforter, bareheaded, in the little yard. Feverishly 
he exulted in his freedom as he sped down the 
street. Stumbling over tomato-cans, loose stones, 
and gutter-wreck, but oblivious to pain, he made 
straight for his store. No one met him. No 
arm was stretched out to save him. Passing 
around to the rear of the building, he entered 
through a window that he alone knew how to 
unfasten from the outside. Again he stood in 
his own bar-room. Once more he could, with 
unlimited resources, quench the burning thirst. 
He had circumvented his watcher; had braved 
the doctor. With an insane, half-articulate 
chuckle, not stopping to light a lamp, he groped 
his way behind the counter, and drank. 

Morning dawned, and Mrs. Bowman, as usual, 
with anger in her heart, and dire admonition on 
her lips, entered the sick room, bearing the 
invalid's breakfast. The bed was empty ! 

In great surprise, she stood, looking about, 
hardly able to credit the evidence of her senses. 
He had gone, and so had her best comforter, as 
her quick eye discovered. Gone without paying 



'AS THE FOOL DIE TIL'' 353 

his board, and she slaving day and night for 
him, just to please the mission folks ! With a 
most emphatic tread, she went back to the 
kitchen, and began her day*s work, without men- 
tioning her discovery. Soon Chamberlain came 
running down-stairs. 

" Is Pfaff here ? '* he demanded, looking about 
the room. 

"No, he is not." 

"Where is he.?" 

**How should I know? When I carried up 
his breakfast, a while ago, he was gone, and I 
am glad of it. He stole my best comforter." 

" But his clothes are locked up." 

" Mercy ! so they are ! and his boots, too ! " 
said Mrs. Bowman, awaking to the fact that it 
might be more than the mere removal from one 
boarding-house to the other. 

To assure themselves, they went to the closet, 
and found his things resting quietly in their 
places, not having been disturbed. 

" Most likely he took some one else's things," 
said the landlady. 

But a search and close inquiry revealed no 
such appropriation. 

"He must have wanted to go dreadful bad, 
— barefooted, and in his shirt-sleeves, — after all 
I *ve done for him," remarked Mrs. Bowman. 



354 ff^S OPPORTUNITY. 

" It was rum he was after," said her son. 
" A rum-lover will go through any thing to get 
it. I bet at this minute he is at some of the 
shanties down-street, dead drunk." 

** If he is, it will kill him," said Chamberlain. 

" Oh, I guess not. It is wonderful, what a 
drinking man can stand. I don't know but it will 
be a good thing for him. He has been pining for 
it for some time. Perhaps, after all, it was 
what he needed. Nature knows," remarked a 
neighbor, who had dropped in, with a feeling 
that all true Steep Streeters had, "that there 
was something goin' on." 

" Nature knows, " almost screamed Mrs. Bow- 
man. " It is n't nature that makes a man love 
drink ! It is the devil, and his own appetite, 
that he has for years cultivated ! And I tell 
you, if I hear any more of your bar-room ser- 
mons, I '11 show you that this is n't a saloon, or a 
family rum-store, but an honest, temperance house." 

Considerably abashed, the man slunk away 
Soon after, the doctor came. He looked very 
grave, when they told him about the patient. 

" Where would he be likely to go } " he in- 
quired, of Rc^. 

"To McShaixs." was the answer. At once 
they all went t. this shanty, but were told that 
no trace of th^ s.ck man had been seen. 



**AS THE FOOL DIETH.*' 355 



At first the physician was inclined to doubt, 
but the honest air of the proprietor of the 
hnijse finally assured him that he was speaking 
the truth, and that they must look further. 

Somebody suggested the store, and the little 
party of searchers went toward it. When they 
reached the place, and knocked on the door, 
quite a crowd collected, to see what was going 
on. Up and down the street, the people, seeing 
the gathering, threw up windows, and thrust out 
uncombed heads. The gamins, running from all 
sides, packed close to the doctor, who was making 
the building ring with his vigorous knocking. 

" Say, Mister, they is a winder opin round 
back of the store. I seen it," called a youngster. 

Learning that the statement was true, the 
physician went round to the rear and climbed in, 
leaving Chamberlain to keep the crowd back. 
A minute later he came to the window. 

*^He is here," he said. 

** Why does n't he unlock the door } We want 
to drink his health," said one of the crowd. 

"He is dead," said the doctor, gravely. 

It was even so. Behind the counter, in a 
little pool of liquor, that had run out of a half 
emptied bottle, his face resting against a cask 
of ale, lay the rumseller. His thirst had been 
quenched, never again to be awakened. 



35^ . HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

The news fell upon the gathered crowd with 
startling effect The few who forced their vvay 
in, and saw the bloated, disfigured face, th** 
half-dressed form, the shoeless feet, came back 
and told it with genuine horror. Never had 
such a temperance sermon been preached in 
Steelville as this mass of degraded clay now 
preached. Every teller of the story, whether 
liquor-lover or hater, was doing good work for 
his neighbors, if not for himself. Steep Street, 
at last, had a lesson that equalled its needs. 

Pfaff was buried. As was the custom in the 
mill village, there was a large funeral. Those 
whom he had most injured, — the hard drinkers, — 
were loudest in their expressions of regret. In 
the little cemetery, back of the village, he was 
laid, — to be forgotten as all supposed. When 
his death was announced, relatives appeared and 
claiming his property received it. They attempted 
to continue the store, but through the efforts of 
Chamberlain, backed by a strong public sentiment, 
were refused, and the " Hole in the Wall " was 
forever stopped up. After the division of the 
property no money remained for a headstone. 
Mrs. Bowman, indignant that it should be so, 
said that at her own expense she would erect 
one. No one objected. Three weeks afterward, 
a slab, carefully cased, was carried to the ccme- 



*'AS THE FOOL DIE TIL** 357 

tcry and erected. For a day or two, no one 
had curiosity enough to see what it said. At 
length, one Steep-street gossip languidly strolled 
over and after standing before it, in amaze- 
ment for ten minutes, almost ran back to the 
villacre. Soon others came. Then others. The 
graveyard never before had so many visitors. 
Even the Wilson monument, of Scotch granite, 
had not attracted so much attention. Scores came 
from the upper village. From far and near, from 
the outlying districts, people journeyed to read the 
inscription that was on the plain stone, which the 
hand of charity had erected ; it read : — 

^^ Here lies the body of 

"Jacob Pfaff, — rumseller, 

** Murderer of John Bowman^ Jacob Randall^ William 
Seaforth^ Gabriel More^ Edmund Johnson^ Patrick 
White and Wife, Timothy Sedgwick, Randall 
Wilson, Tom McCarty, John Ferguson and 
four Sofis, Tobey Escott, Richard Gob- 
bin, Jacob Vrail, and many more 
whose names cannot be recalled, 
both of Men and Women^ 
Fathers, Mothers, and 
Little Children. . 

**When he ^all be judged let him be condemned. — Ps. 109:7, 

"Let the extortioner catch all that he hath, and let strangers 
■poil hts labor. — Ps. 109 : i L 

"Because that he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted 
the poor and i eedy man, that he might even slay the broken io 
heart.— Ps. 109 16." 



35^ ffIS OPPORTUNITY. 



XXVI. 

BOUT this time, Mr. Lamson received a 
P3L telegram, which, to judge by its effect upon 
him, did not contain good news. After its pe- 
rusal, he paced the floor for an hour, his beetling 
brows bent in deep thought. As one result of 
this hour of reflection, the rest of the day was 
spent at home in burning certain papers and 
the few business letters that he had preserved. 
He then sent an answer to the message that 
had so agitated him. 

At ten that evening, a man emerged from the 
grove at the rear of the house, and advancing 
cautiously to a side door, entered. With accus- 
tomed step he made his way to the lawyer's 
study, and was at once welcomed. 

" You received my telegram 1 " said the 
stranger^ taking off his slouch hat and revealing 
a foxy physiognomy, that alone might have 
stamped him as a sharper. 



DOWN THE RIVER. 359 

'*Yes," was the reply. "Why could you not 
get cash ? " 

*'T did at the last moment.'* 

"Has the sale indeed been made?" was the 
delighted inquiry. 

"Yes, I have the cash here in my bag." 

"Good ! now all will be right. I can make 
the investment that I wished, and reap a golden 
harvest." 

The other made no reply, but watched the 
agent's face with the keenest attention, as if 
feeling that his partner was about to do some- 
thing' in which he was to have no share. He 
kept this attentive air through the evening, as 
they talked on various topics. Lamson was, as 
ever, quiet and controlled in his expressions, yet 
a bright spot burning on each cheek, and the 
dilated pupils of his eyes, showed that he was 
laboring under excitement. His friend talked 
with a purpose, keenly alive to every hint that 
voice or countenance might suggest. The other 
knew that he was being closely observed, that 
the man before him was schooled in reading 
men, and the knowledge made him restive. He 
had found it necessary to take him into partial 
confidence, and had purchased his co-operation at 
a large price, but he also had plans that he did 
not intend to divulge. He therefore guarded 



3^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

every word, although speaking with assumed can- 
dor. It was quite late when the stranger de- 
parted, and although weary to the last pitch of 
endurance, Lamson collected a few papers and 
a large bundle of <>ills, and prepared to go out 
into the night. 

When all was prepared, he slipped out of the 
back door, quietly locking it, and stood for an 
instant looking up at his mother's window. 
After a mute farewell, he dashed away a tear, 
and noiselessly crossing the yard, entered the 
grove at the rear of the estate, and was soon 
threading its broad paths towards the river. 

Had any of his friends encountered him at 
that moment, it is doubtful if they would have 
recognized him. Clad in a suit of the coarsest 
material, his beard and mustache shaved off, 
his thick hair cut close, hands and face pur- 
posely roughened, he was no longer the easy, 
polished gentleman, but had become a flat-footed, 
heav)^visaged laborer. His disguise was perfect, 
and with the great self-command and abundant 
miraitry that characterized him, there was little 
fear of detection. 

The grove sloped gradually to the river })elow 
the mills. Taking a well-kept path, he soon 
gained the neat wharf, to which was tied a 
pretty wherry. One might reasonably presume 



DOWN THE RIVER. 36 1 

that this boat was to aid in the flight, but it 
was rot. A few rods further down, where a 
dense thicket pressed so closely to the water's 
edge tliat its advance guard stretched over and 
dipi^ed its branches in the stream, was a small 
canvas canoe. With some difficulty, it was 
drawn from its security and laid alongside the 
wharf. Carefully the valise was placed in it, 
and then with more skill than one would expect 
from so heavily built a personage, he stepped 
in, gave the wharf a powerful shove with the 
paddle, and was floating in mid-stream. 

There was hardly any current in the black, 
narrow river, and letting the boat drift, he 
waited to discover, if possible, whether he had 
been followed. Fully aware that he could not 
trust his partner in the polish business, and 
anxious to destroy every clue to the manner in 
which he had left Steelville, he waited until sure 
that no one was watching him from the deep 
shadows of the pines in the grove. 

The last doubt dispelled, he dipped the paddle 
into the still water and moved down stream. A 
few strokes, and rounding a bend, he was alone 
— alone on the river, dead to the Steelville 
world. 

The stream upon which he had embarked was 
the same that furnished power for the file-fac- 



3^2 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

tory, and from where he floated he could hear 
the water roaring over the dam, a half mile 
away. It was a deep, inky river, and from boy- 
hood Lamson had known every part of it. He 
had waded in the bubbling mud of its lagoons 
for water-lilies, fished in all its pools, bathed, 
boated, and skated its entire length; hence 
when his eyes became accustomed to the dark- 
ness, he was as much at home as he would 
have been on the highway before his house. 

Shut in by the walls of trees that grew down 
to the river's edge, he moved along with no 
sound but the quick plunge of the startled musk- 
rat, the hoarse double bass of the bull-frog, 
and the many voices that are audible only at 
night. Such sounds make silence more profound. 
There is no loneliness so complete as that which 
comes over one in the midst of noisy, unsym- 
pathetic life. So the fugitive, listening to the 
uncouth language of reptile and insect, which 
mingled with the gurgle of the water as it was 
parted by the sharp prow of his boat, felt op- 
pressed, as if he were threading an unknown 
river in a planet which none but he had ever 
before visited. It was this overpowering loneli- 
ness that made him suddenly cringe when the 
swift wing of some bird of night cut the air 
close to him, or when the wheeling, invisible 



DOWN THE RIVER. 3^3 

» — ■ 

bats snapped their sharp teeth over some appe- 
tising insect that the reedy banks afforded. 

The first half mile of the liquid trail was 
between thickets of trees. Their brooding shad- 
ows, even in the darkness, shrouded the river 
in a denser gloom. Here and there the whited 
skeleton of some forest tree, from which the 
water had sucked all vitality, stood a rigid, famil- 
iar landmark. An occasional phosphorescent 
stump glowed uncannily on the margin of the 
stream. At times, the forest sentinels leaned far 
over, till one seemed to be gliding through a 
tunnel, and again they opened wide and allowed 
the faint color of the clouds above to sift down 
between their ranks. With carefulness, the voy- 
ager felt his way along; turning perilous corners, 
dodging snags that would have pierced the painted 
canvas and defeated all for which he was work- 
ing. Guarding against every danger, his whole 
attention bent on the few feet that were visible 
in front of the canoe, he paddled cautiously on- 
ward. 

Following the prodigal curves and bends that 
doubled the distance, the light craft soon slipped 
out of the dense woods into a tract of country 
where only occasional clumps of oaks, interspersed 
by thickets of alders and dwarf willows, obtained 
foothold on the banks. On either side, leading 



3^4 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

from the main stream, were shallow bayous 
crowded with lily-pads, and in the season, holding 
thousands of lovely Nymphae. A short distance be- 
low was a low bridge of poles, used by the farm.ers 
when getting wood or hay. Below this the banks 
were entirely free from trees. On both sides 
stretched square miles of prairie meadow. The 
broad fields, as far as the eye could reach, were 
alive with twinkling fire-flies. Far up on "Flint 
Hill," a lofty eminence in the rear of Steelville, 
gleamed a solitary light. Looking ahead through 
the gloom, a ghostly shroud of river-mist could 
be barely discerned, marking accurately the course 
of the stream. 

With more confidence, and less of overwhelming 
loneliness, the fugitive dipped the paddle deeper 
and oftener, sending the boat at a more rapid 
rate on its way. Yet, even here the dangers of 
navigation at night were not trifling. There were 
sudden shallows where the keel grated ominously; 
drift-wood logs that stuck endwise up-stream, as 
if trying to shoulder the crowding water back ; 
masses of matted river-grass, that clung with ob- 
stinate tentacles to the boat's side, wrapped them- 
selves about the paddle, and required vigorous 
efforts to shake them off. 

Down-stream still, past forests of flags, where 
the bulrushes lifted their cockades like ramrods 



DOWN THE RIVER. 3^5 

in blossom; past the reedy houses of hundreds of 
red-winged blackbirds. Does one ever forget one's 
boyhood ? Was it strange that unsentimental 
Lamson, weighed down by a sense of isolation 
and danger, should recall minutely the king- 
fishers' nests? the pickerel that he had captured 
in certain shallows? the night-fishing with torches 
for the wallowing horn-pouts? the best swimming 
places? — all that made his early life so free and 
happy ? 

At length he passed beneath the stone arch 
of the railroad bridge. The river now ran close 
beside a high ridge, a continuation of that upon 
which the Whittier house was built. This ridge, 
densely wooded with pine, maple, and oak, over 
grown by tangled seines of thorny squirrel vine, 
although so near the lower town, was not often 
visited. 

In its shadow the boat slid along till within 
an eighth of a mile of the town, and then, where 
a break occurred in the ridge, through which 
trickled a tiny brook, Lamson stopped. Laying 
aside the paddle, and catching the branches of 
the thicket that completely hid the deep mouth 
of the rivulet, he worked his way in with diffi- 
culty. Erelong the ashen keel of the canoe struck 
bottom. Standing erect, his head buried in the 
mass of vines and leaves, he felt along the steep 



3^6 ms OPPORTUNITY. 

bank. In a moment he had discovered a stump 
clinging determinedly to the gravelly slope, and 
beneath, with one of its huge, bare roots for a 
threshhold, an untenanted muskrat hole. A few 
moments' work sufficed to enlarge the mouth of 
the miniature cave enough to admit the valise. 
Then, when it was carefully concealed, he pushed 
out into the stream again, aud paddling to the 
well-known " swimming hole," just below, landed. 

It took but a short time to ballast the boat 
with stones, float down almost to the mill pond, 
land, cut two or three slits in the cloth sides, 
and send it out into deep water to sink with a 
remonstrating gurgle. The only clue to the 
manner in which he had left Steelville being thus 
destroyed, Lamson went to the little village and 
had breakfast. After lounging about for a little 
while, he bought a second-hand carpet-bag, 
transferred the contents of the valise to it, and 
started to walk the score of miles that intervened 
between him and the city. Why he feared to 
take the cars when so well disguised, does not 
appear. Perhaps it was from the impression that 
most defaulters, when apprehended, were found 
either on a train, or in some railway station. 

Leaving him following the turnpike road to- 
ward the metropolis, we will turn back to ♦'he 
town from which he so hastily fled. 



DOWN THE RIVER. 3^7 



A sweet-faced lady, scrupulously dressed, was 
walking up Steep Street. Her appearance created 
a deal of attention, of which she was unconscious, 
as no one accosted her, except a few of the 
"gutter snipes," who challenge everybody. The 
walk was rather fatiguing, as her quickened 
breathing, and cheeks faintly tinged with red, 
suggested. At length she reached the upper 
end, and stood looking back over the wretched 
tenement-houses, the more distant mill buildings, 
and finally far away to the blue hills that were 
heaped up on the horizon. 

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from 
whence cometh my help," she murmured. 

In the blue eyes was a pain that only the 
kindest eyes can express. An unselfish, loving 
look they held, that many a boy can recall when 
he thinks of his mother. Advancing to the Bow- 
man cottage, she knocked. 

"Is Mr. Chamberlain in?" 

"Yes'm. Won't you come in.? I'll call him." 

Rob, with clumsy civility, led the way into 
the sitting-room, pushed forward the calico-covered 
rocking-chair, stumbled over the mat, and went 
for the lodger. 

When the latter entered the room, the little 
woman rose, and with a sweet, anxious smile, 
asked, — 



368 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"Is this Mr. Chamberlain?" * ' 

"It is." 

Without further words, the visitor stood before 
him, in unaccountable embarrassment. Chamber- 
lain was too much surprised by her agitation to 
do more than seat her, and wait in silence for 
her to speak. He had seen her face before; 
where, he could not remember. She did not 
look like the kind of person who would come 
with a tale of trouble, or solicit alms, for her 
dress was rich. The more he looked, the more 
absurd this fancy seemed ; for he could not but 
see her gold eye-glasses, costly lace, and expen- 
sive dress. 

Fully aware that it was no ordinary matter 
that was thus overcoming her, by neither word 
nor act did he strive to hurry her confidence. 
At length she spoke: — 

" You must pardon me," she said, in a voice 
a little broken; "but I have just lost my boy." 

Chamberlain bowed sympathetically. 

"I hardly know why I have come to you; but 
my boy often mentioned your name, and I 
thought possibly you might help me get trace 
of him." 

Chamberlain, with quick perception, reasoned 
that the lad had run away. 

"It is easy as a rule to trace runaways; 



DOWN THE RIVER. 3^ 

:hey either start for the prairie, or the sea. I 
do not doubt, if you put a good detective on his 
track, he can easily be found, and will be glad 
to return. How old is he ? " 

** You do not recognize me ? " said the lady, 
a look of surprise on her face. 

" I remember your face very distinctly, but I 
cannot recollect where I have seen you." 

" I am Mr. Lamson's mother." 

Then Chamberlain remembered and at once 
apologized, but was gracefully interrupted. 

" You have met me but once, and then only 
for an instant It would have been wonderful 
if you had remembered me. I am to blame. 
Had I not been troubled by my loss, I should 
have introduced myself. Do you suppose there is 
any means by which I can get word to my boy } 
He was your friend, can you not suggest a way?" 

Chamberlain reflected. He had never known 
that Mrs. Lamson had a son other than the 
agent. He pictured a fifteen-year-old, with the 
same general make-up as the elder brother. The 
mother, as a matter of course, was troubled and 
anxious, but as he had told her the probabilities 
were that the boy could be found, not far away 
and all ready to return home. He was about 
again to assure her of this probable happy ter- 
mination, when she handed him a letter. 



370 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

" This is a note he left," she said. 

He opened it slowly, the troubled mother keep- 
ing her eyes fastened upon him to catch every 
expression written on his face. Surprise was 
the first emotion he experienced, for the ietter 
was in the agent's well-known chirography. It 
was written on the File Company's letter-sheet, 
and must have been penned at the office. It 
read : — 

^^ Dear Mother^ — Business troubles have overwhelmed 
me, and I am forced at once to leave Steelville. 
Please do not worry. There would be no help for 
me if I remained here, as certain business transac- 
tions to which I was party, would be misconstrued 
and made to appear frauds. You know, my mother, 
that my integrity remains unshaken. I shall one 
day return free from all suspicion. You may not 
hear from me for some time, as it will be best not 
to give any of my enemies a clue to my where- 
abouts. Remember this, dear mother, if I am in 
any trouble that you can allevitate, you shall know 
it. Let this thought comfort you. 

"Your loving son, 

**EPHRAIM LAMSON." 

Chamberlain's eyes were opened. It was not a 
younger son ! It was the agent ! The whole 
thing came before him in a flash. The " busi- 
ness troubles" were the discovery of h«<» secre* 



DOWN THE RIVER. 371 

manufacture of polish, out of materials owned by 
the company, by help paid by the company. 
This was a most serious affair, for he had, 
during the weeks past, been making careful es- 
timates of the amount of stock thus consumed, 
and found it was very large. Lamson's profits 
in the business must have netted him a snug 
little fortune. Since Sam had dismissed the 
night gang, there had been nothing done in the 
file-works in that line, and Chamberlain learned, 
by writing to the city agency, that the right of 
manufacture had been sold to a rival firm. 

Just what to do in this crisis he did not 
know. As soon as he had discovered exactly 
how things stood, he wrote a letter to the at- 
torney of two of the other members of the 
company who were, at the best, but small stock- 
holders, requesting that the matter be looked 
into at once, and advising secrecy, that Lamson 
might be apprehended, and the stolen money 
refunded. In doing this, as was natural, he had 
many doubts, for it is easy for one to make a 
mistake, and accuse an innocent person. He 
was sorely puzzled by many things that came 
to light about the agent. At one time he had 
thought him a fraud, and at another believed 
that he was all right, and the reports about 
him were malicious slanders. Now, however, his 



37^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

sudden disappearance was an acknowledgment of 
guilt. From his reverie he awoke to the fact 
that the mother was patiently waiting for him 
to give her some encouragement. 

" Do you know where he has gone } " she 
inquired. 

*'I am sorry to say, I do not," was the re- 
ply. 

"Has he not made a great mistake, in going 
away like a criminal } Will not people say that 
he has done wrong and been forced to flee to 
save himself from punishment } " 

"I fear they will." 

" Mr. Chamberlain, a few days before my son 
went away, he told me of your hopes with re 
gard to the mill. He said that you had learned 
the business thoroughly, and that in less than 
two weeks your probation would be up, and you 
will be the heaviest stockholder and virtually 
owner of the mills. You are acquainted with 
all the facts. Can you not prove to people that 
my son's intentions were good } He may have 
been unfortunate in some of his undertakings, 
but he certainly was not dishonest." 

Chamberlain remained silent. There was now 
no doubt in his mind as to the rascality of the 
son, but he could not say so to the trusting 
mother. He could not shake her confidence in 



DOWN THE RIVER. 373 



her "boy," so he agreed to do all he consci- 
entiously could to keep people from maligning 
him. Even as he talked with her the probable 
effect upon the business, of the sudden flight 
of the agent, would obtrude itself. The works 
were fortunately shut down for a week's repair- 
ing. Before they started again, all must be 
straight. The sensation of a new and heavy 
weight of responsibility settled over Chamber- 
lain. He knew that the agent was a man of 
ability, and had managed the affairs of the 
company so that they had prospered. He had 
sometime expected to see to many things in 
Lamson's province, and naturally wished for a 
longer training in that particular line. He was 
aware that a carefully systematized business, 
with competent clerks, will run itself for awhile, 
in the absence of the head, but he also knew 
that it was unsafe. 

The sweet-faced mother of the agent rose to 
go, as she saw the young man so deeply 
engrossed with his thoughts. She trembled as 
she crossed the threshold, and Chamberlain, 
stirred by the sight, caught his hat, and insisted 
upon accompanying her home. On the way she 
was cheery and chatty, although with a shade 
of sadness in her voice that could not be en- 
tirely dispelled When they reached her home, 



374 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

alleging business engagements, he excused him- 
self from coming in. She held out her hand, 
and, keeping his, said with tears in her eyes, — 

" Will you pray for my boy ? " 

Pray for Lamson ! Chamberlain was startled. 
It had never occurred to his mind that he 
might pray for him. And then like a blow 
came the recognition of his own lack of faith. 
Pray for him ! Certainly, and he felt rebuked 
that when he had discovered his dishonesty, he 
had not asked the Lord to soften his hard 
heart, and give him true repentance. 

"I will, Mrs. Lamson, pray for your son, that 
God may forgive and save him from sin.*' 



TAM'S TEMPTATION. 375 



XXVII. 

Y^inj's • Y<2^rr)pf <af 101). 

JT was August. Torrid, dusty Steep Street 
sweltered under the burning sun The 
''Arabs" spent most of their time in the river. 
It was almost too hot to go to Sunday-school, 
and for a while the mission languished. Business 
at the file-works was none the less pressing, 
and the men worked away steadily, suffering less 
inconvenience from the heat than did the ham- 
mock idlers in the town above. Among the 
changes that had come to the mill settlement, 
was one that was a great surprise. It was the 
appearance of Tam McDonald. He came quietly, 
as if he had been gone but a week, and the 
village folk received him with few manifestations 
of surprise. At the east end of the File Com- 
pany's domains, was a large old-fashioned house, 
where lived a man who was half gardener and 
half farmer. Among his other possessions were 



376 ffIS OPPORTUNITY. 

twenty head of cattle During the life of Rob- 
ert Flint this man had been a favorite, and 
was allowed many privileges. Among others he 
fitted up an extra building that adjoined the 
*' packing-room/* for a barn. When Lamson 
came into power, he tried in many ways to dis- 
lodge this man, as for some reason he had a 
most decided grudge against him. Finding that he 
could neither buy him out nor scare him away, 
he built a high fence between bis barn and the 
"packing-room.'* 

With this man Tam took up his abode. The 
exposure to which the little Scotchman had sub- 
jected himself during his term of hermitage, 
left him with a hard, dry cough. Chamberlain, 
who had grown to have a strong liking for 
the strange man, was troubled about this 
cough, and finally persuaded Tam to allow the 
doctor to examine his throat. The physician 
prescribed a mild tonic, and furnished the first 
instalment himself in the shape of a bottle of 
old cider. Tam at first demurred, but when he 
considered the small amount prescribed, he con- 
cluded that his fears were groundless, and took 
it as ordered. 

The first bottle was finished, and the racking 
cough had grown less frequent. The farmer, in 
whose ample kitchen he had a place, seeing 



TAM'S TFMPTATION. 177 

how much he was improved, persuaded him to 
taste of his old cider, and ere long, it was the 
regular thing to have a drink each evening out 
of the brown pitcher. 

The jolly, bluff farmer had been a former 
friend and fellow-workman of Tam's and promised 
him that whatever happened, Lamson should 
never again have a chance to send him to an 
asylum. Tam, with his old pertinacity, believed 
that his disfigurement was due to the agent's 
hate, and avoided the latter accordingly. There 
was no need of his caution, however, for the 
lawyer made no attempt to trouble him. He 
therefore remained, doing odd jobs in the garden 
and on the farm, and taking long tramps, occa- 
sionally disappearing for three or four days at a 
time. 

One evening, when the farmer's family had 
retired, Tam sat in the great kitchen, getting 
his mind calmed for the night's sleep. After 
moving about uneasily for a while, he found that 
he was very thirsty. As usual, of late, he went 
to the brown pitcher. It was empty. The pump 
was near by, but he scarcely thought of it. 
Cider seemed the only possible thirst-quenct er. 
His thirst increased. The parched throat called 
for one drink and would have it. His dark eyes 
burned with the strength of his desire. Dimly 



37^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



conscious that this was an awakening of the old 
appetite, he tried to fasten his mind on some 
Scripture thought, and failed. At length, seizing 
the pitcher, he started for the barn. 

Fully aware of what he was doing, for the 
same temptation he had felt in former years, 
he hurried through the yard, skirted the fence, 
swiftly crossed an open patch of moonlight, 
which was in full view of the farmer's bedroom 
window, and in the shadow of the huge barn 
made his way toward the door next the cider- 
room. It was locked. The three doors on the 
other side wore also locked. There was yet an- 
other way to be tried, — the barn cellar, which 
was always open, and from it he could reach 
the cider-room. With the perseverance of mad- 
ness, wholly under the control of his appetite, 
Tam entered the thick darkness of the barn cel- 
lar. His remarkable memory for places led him 
directly to the steep stairs, and then up into 
the barn. As he raised his head above the 
floor, all the noisy silence of a room, containing 
twenty head of cattle and several horses, burst 
upon his ear. He climbed over a plow and the 
shafts of a hay- wagon and stood in the middle 
of the floor. The moon shone in through the 
line of window-panes, above the great doors, par* 
tially lighting the large enclosure. On one side, 



TAM'S TEMPTATION. 379 



the palisades of hay reached from floor to 
rafters; on the other, the shelving mass 
overhung ' the long row of ruminants, whose 
heavy breathing, uneasy movements, and chew'-ng, 
warned him of their position. 

The cider-room was on the other side of the 
cattle. Standing as closely as they did, he 
knew that it would be somewhat difficult to 
pass between them, even in daylight, unless he 
happened to hit the passage used by the farmer. 
His memory, however, again served him, and he 
remembered that next to the passage was the 
loft-ladder. This found, he secured a hay-fork, 
and explored the space ahead and on both sides. 
Finding the exact position of the cross cow on 
one side, and the nervous heifer on the other, 
he went on, crossed the dangerous place in 
safety, and reached the cider-room. Having seen 
the farmer draw the coveted beverage, he was 
familiar with the place and cask. 

Filling his pitcher, he turned to go back. 
On reaching the little square window opposite 
the passage, he saw on the floor something 
white, perhaps a handkerchief. He stooped to 
p'ck it up, then jumped suddenly back, spilling 
half of the cider, for he had seized a hind foot of 
the nervous heifer, and narrowly escaped receiving 
a vicious kick. Feeling the wall for some distance 



3^0 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

further, he discovered a hoe, with which he per 
suaded the heifer and cross cow to stand far 
enough apart to allow him to pass. This they 
did, after several angry kicks into empty air, 
and Tarn went through unharmed. Carefully 
carrying the precious pitcher, he again climbed 
over the shafts of the hay-wagon, passed the 
plow, and went down the stairs into the cellar. 
The door at the further end was the only open- 
ing in the whole vast apartment. Through it 
streamed a flood of light. Sitting on the lower 
stair, with the one fierce idea still holding his 
mind in thrall, he raised the pitcher to his lips. 
He was about to gratify his thirst. It was 
right for him to do this, he argued, for 
had not the doctor ordered it.-^ There was 
a nervous, frantic joy in the thought that 
in an instant he would satisfy the clamoring 
appetite. 

He raised the pitcher and then lowered 'it 
without tasting. The thought of what he was 
really about to do, swept over him with a force 
that made him reel as if he had received a 
blow. . He was about to drink, and, as he ac- 
knowledged to himself, not a little, but again 
and again, till he lay in one of the old, sense* 
less stupors. Hey a man redeemed from drink 
by the power of God, was again courting the 



TAM'S TEMPTATION'. 38 1 

drunkard's curse. With a mighty prayer, " O 
Loord, help ! " he set the pitcher down, too 
weak to pour it away, too strong to yield to 
his desire. Praying with all his might, keeping 
his hands resolutely away from the accursed 
stuff, Tarn slowly gained strength, and finally, 
with a great effort, reached out his foot and 
kicked the pitcher over, although it almost broke 
his heart to do so. Once settled, he felt bet- 
ter. The tempter vanquished, fled, and Tarn, 
trembling at his narrow escape, sat rejoicing and 
weeping. For some time he staid on the lower 
stair, musing on his temptation. Occasionally he 
murmured, — *'0 Loord, help me!" and each time 
received new strength. In long review passed the 
incidents of his life. He recalled his many follies, 
and remembered how often, when he was delib- 
erately planning sin, the Lord had made it 
impossible by removing the opportunity. Close 
by was the factory, — so close that he could hear 
the sighing of the exhaust-pipes on the boilers. 
So near the places in which so large a portion 
of Lis life had been passed, it was not wonder- 
ful that be sat and listened and forgot the 
barn fu^^ of ruminants, and remembered only 
the ev*=',r-prcsent noises of the mill. How many 
times /lad he wandered away from the Lord 
whcF a that mill, and how many times he had 



3^2 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



been lovingly brought back ! In his humiliation, 
he acknowledged that the punishment received 
in Boiler Number Six was just. 

Kneeling reverently, he prayed long and earn- 
estly. Not aloud, as he had when sure that he was 
alone in the deserted mill-yard, but in broken whis- 
pers and with choking sobs. Poor Tam! Al- 
most broken-hearted, he did not know that his 
temptation was to be the means of saving an- 
other. Rising from his knees and turning 
toward the doorway, he saw, with a thrill of 
surprise, the figure of a man, looking eagerly 
back over the lighted fields. 

The moon shone full upon him, showing him 
to be vigorous, well-built and muscular, while 
the slouching, dogged, nameless air bespoke the 
rough. After surveying the landscape to his 
satisfaction, he stepped within the door, out of 
the light, and was lost to view in the black- 
ness that filled the cellar. Up to this moment 
Tam had not moved, but now, with instinctive 
caution, he stepped quietly back, behind the 
stairs, and waited the turn of events. He had 
hardly done so, when a noise and a smothered 
oath, not two feet in front of him, made his 
heart leap to his mouth. The stranger had run 
mto the stairs. The shrill voice of a startled 
rooster brought another invective, and as the 



TAM'S TEMPTATION. 3^3 



unknown crept quietly up the stairs, his arrival 
at the plow was made known by still another 
unhallowed expression. Determined to know 
what the visitor wanted, Tarn softly followed 
him. As he raised his head above the level oi 
the barn-floor, he saw the dim outline of the 
plow just in front of him, and, further off, the 
faint silhouette of the hay-wagon. The silver 
ladder of moonlight that lay on the floor half 
an hour before was gone, the cattle were 
quieter, the man was nowhere to be seen. He 
listened intently, but heard no sound like a 
human footfall, nor was he directed by any more 
profane signals. He had a feeling that the man, 
or tramp, was, as he had been, in search of 
cider, so he turned his attention to the well- 
remembered passage between the cross cow and 
the heifer. There seemed to be no movement 
in that direction, and, tired of waiting, he had 
just gained the barn-floor and softly climbed 
over the plow, when he heard, close by him, 
the familiar oath. For a moment he supposed 
that he was discovered, but a little delay showed 
that he was not. The stranger had caught his 
foot in the shafts of the hay-wagon and had 
almost fallen. It was easier to follow him now, 
as he moved around, for the loose litter on the 
floor rustled under his feet. Instead of at- 



384 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

tempting to reach the cider-room, the intruder 
went in the opposite direction, down to the 
farther end of the long barn. Here he paused 
some moments, and listened intently ; then, with 
increased caution, unhasped the door at that end 
of the building, and partly opened it. Retracing 
his steps, he passed his unsuspected follower, 
and went on till he reached the centre of the 
barn-floor. Here he paused, and, with consider- 
able noise, began to collect the litter into a 
pile. " To make a bed," his observer thought, 
with some surprise. A moment later, however, 
he saw his mistake, for the tramp, stooping low 
over the pile, lit a match, and held it closely 
in his hollow palm till it should be fairly ig- 
nited. By the light of that match, Tam read the 
purpose of the stranger. He was preparing to 
fire the barn ! Half a minute's delay might be 
fatal. The little pile of inflammable material, 
placed near the overhanging mow, would, in three 
minutes, settle the fate of the barn, and then 
of the mill-buildings. Scarcely stopping to 
think, the impulsive Scotchman sprang forward, 
struck the shielding hands together, extinguish- 
h.g the match, and in an instant more was roll- 
ing in desperate combat with the incendiary. 

Neither uttered a cry; both put forth all of 
the strength they possessed. Back and forth over 



TAM'S TEMPTATION. 3^5 

the floor they rolled, startling the cows from 
their contented reclining, as they came almost 
under their horns, and then bumping up against 
the mows on the other side. The man was natur- 
ally strong, but had not the skill or suppleness 
of his wiry antagonist, and finally relaxed his 
struggles, and lay still. 

Knowing that he could not rely upon any 
such forced condition as a signal of defeat, the 
excited Scotchman suddenly seized the two wrists 
of his antagonist and crossed them quickly over 
his back ; he thus had him at his mercy. Hold- 
ing him in this manner, he raised him to his 
feet, and pushed him out through the open door, 
guided him around the barn into the large yard; 
through this to the door, past the growling 
watch-dog, and into the large, old-fashioned 
kitchen, where the light was still burning. Here 
he released him. Looking eagerly into his face, 
Tam saw John Temple. The incendiary recog- 
nized the half-insane stranger — one of the file- 
workers. The deep-toned oath that he uttered 
showed his utter astonishment. In another in 
stant his face was livid with passion. 

" Curse you ! Curse you ! " he said. " There 's 
one way I 'd like to settle with you." 

"Can ye tal rae one thing that I have done 
to harm you?" 



386 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"Aye, that I can. This affair to-night will be 
the ruin of me. If I had known it was you 
that was wrestling with me, I would have killed 
you ! Where did you get your strength } " 

The speaker looked over, in his great anger, 
at the puny, wizened figure, in amazement that 
he had been able to conquer him. 

"The Loord gave me strength," said Tam. 

" If you are going to talk that way, I 'm 
going," said Temple. 

" You '11 stay where ye are, mon," said Tam, 
decisively. "We canna' rastle here as we did 
in the barn without waking the man of the house. 
You'd best stay where ye be." 

"What do you want of me?" asked Temple, 
sullenly. 

"I wish to know what grudge you hold against 
the owner of this farm, that ye were trying to 
fire his barn } " 

"I had no grudge against him. It is with 
Lamson that I am angry. He knew when I was 
upon my last 'bat,' and he offered me a job 
nights ; but I did n't want to take it. Then he 
refused to pay me the money that was my due 
on an old debt between me and him. I did n't 
care for it when I was sober, but when a fel- 
low gets full, he needs more money to keep 
him happy." 



rAAf'S TEMPTATION. 3^7 

"And why did you tiy to set fire to the 
barn?" 

"To get revenge on the agent. If that barn 
burned, the packing-room would go, and the office, 
and lots of other buildings. The fire would get 
right into the midst of a nest of wooden build- 
ings, and Lamson would be ruined. I tell you, 
I hate him ! More than any one else, has he 
been the cause of my ruin. Any time I would 
risk my life to injure him." 

"Do you think burning the mill would hurt 
Lamson } " 

"Yes." 

"Well, it wouldn't. Lamson has little or no 
interest there. Instead of hurting him it would 
hurt one whom, if you have a spark of man- 
hood left, you still love." 

" Who } " 

" Thomas Chamberlain." 

Temple bowed his head and thought for an 
instant, then he said, — 

" I don't see how it would hurt him, but it 
does n't signify much. I would do any thing to 
help Chamberlain. It is on his account that I 
have kept out of sight." 

" He would give any thing to sec you, lad," 
said Tam, tenderly. 

"He never shall!" was the fierce reply. "Have 



5^^ HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

I not disgraced him enough ? Don't tell me ! 
He hates the very thought of me, and I don't 
blame him." 

"Tell me how you come to fall so suddenly.'* 

" No ! no ! It 's too hard and cruel a story. I 
was so near, — I felt so thankful. The appetite 
that had held me, I felt I was able to conquer, 
till I tasted the wine^ then I was crazy ! I could 
think of nothing else. The days right after my 
fall are blotted out. I went on a terrible spree. 
Just as things were running so nicely — just 
as the store was beginning to prosper a little. 
Oh, Tam ! Tam ! if you only knew the hell 
that I live in when I think that what I did is 
probably keeping many in the mill back from 
the right!" 

" Thank the Loord that ye can feel so ! Did 
ye know that the North Church use no more 
alcoholic wine at the Communion?" 

" No ! Is that so ? I 'm glad of it. Perhaps 
so'.nc poor fellow like me, with that means for 
p help, may be able to pull through." 

"They are holdin* prayer-meetings for you, so 
( hear." 

" Why do you tell me such things ? It is like 
telling a lost soul of the salvation he has for- 
feited I Why do you torture me } " 

** If I believed you lost, I would na' sa^ i 



TAAPS TEMPTATION, 389 

word ; but I know that you are not. As sure 
as there is a Saviour for me, you, John Temple, 
may yet be saved.'* 

" It is too late, I tell you ! No man can have 
sinned as I have. There is no hope ! '* 

Tam's voice was as calm 'and steady as ever. 

"There is salvation, and you know it. Now, 
why not drop your pride, and accept it } " 

** Pride ! Where is the pride ? I am willing 
to do any thing!" 

"Are you willing to kneel, and ask God now?" 

" It would be mockery." 

"Cannot God see into your heart.? Does he 
not know that you do not mock ? Put down 
your pride, now, and lay hold on salvation." 

" You can not comprehend my appetite, — my 
weakness, — the helplessness of my struggle " 

" Listen, mon," replied Tam, intensely. " Do 
ye ken why / was in the barn when I foun' 
you ? It was to get a pitcher of hard cider to 
quench the thirst that I have so many times 
promised the Loord never again to indulge. I 
was there to get drunk ! I was saved from it. 
Noo, by the Loord's help, you can be saved 
from going farther in the wrong. We are both 
terrible sinners, but I have faith to believe that 
there is help for us. Let us, then, lay hold on 
it." 



390 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

Temple's face lost its look of deep despair. 
Under the light, the haggard, hollow lines showed 
plainly. His spree had taken years out of his 
life. 

"Can there be hope?" 

** * Whosoever will, let him come and take of 
the water of life freely.' That is the only thing 
in this world that can quench a thirst such as 
we have. Noo, brother, we have sinned. Only 
God Almighty knows the depth of our wicked- 
ness. We can not hope to do the good that 
we might, had we always lived pure and good 
lives, as many have ; but we can perhaps save 
one. Let us kneel and ask God to help us." 

Temple shuddered. 

" I can't go back. Tarn," he moaned. " I can't 
go back and fail again. Oh, why didn't I go to 
the river, as I planned, and end it all } " 

" Will you allow the men in the mill to say, 
as they do, that the power of the Loord Jesus 
Christ is not equal to any case of rum-drinking? 
He wants you for a witness. If you trust in 
Him, there can be no failure. Will you do 
it?" 

Putting his arm about him, the little Scotch- 
man drew the form of the half-crazy incendiary 
down beside him, and prayed. Oh. that won- 
derful, melting prayer I It melted the heart of 



TAM'S TRMPTATIOI^. 391 



the listener till he sobbed like a child. Broken, 
contrite, he poured forth a petition of his own. 
Then were the heavens opened, and the rain of 
peace descended on his soul. He rose, sane, 
sober, redeemed from the bonds of appetite ; 
willing to take up his heavy cross and appear 
again before the world. 



392 HIS OP/*ORTUNITY. 



XXVIII. 
iT/p. . W r)ifr)eY s • Tf roposal. 

[HE afternoon sun slanting in through the 
staring windows of the factory buildings, 
shone full on Chamberlain's back, making him 
even more uncomfortable than did the heat of 
the room. He was dead in earnest and was 
not cognizant of what was going on near him, 
till a pleasant, cultured voice said, — 

"Is this Mr. Chamberlain?" 

Glancing up, he saw Mr. Whitney regarding 
him with an expression that was far from 
hostile. 

"Yes, sir," he replied. 

"I have been looking for you, but fear I 
should not have succeeded in finding you, had 
I not been directed by the men. Are you at 
leisure for a few minutes.?" 

"Certainly, sir." 

Leading the way to a part of the room that 
was less noisy and not quite as hot, Chamber- 



MR, WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL. 393 

lain seated himself on a bench by the side of 
his visitor, and waited for him to open the 
conversation. After speaking of the weather and 
general topics, he said, — 

"I never have had the pleasure of greeting 
you before, Mr. Chamberlain, although I have 
often seen you. My life arftong business men 
has led me to decide quickly as to a man's 
capacity or attainments. I must say, that it has 
been a surprise to me, that you were here in 
these works among the lowest class of laborers. 
You must know that you are fitted for some- 
thing better. Are you anxious to leave this 
place } " 

Chamberlain hesitated, for he at once guessed 
the kindly errand upon which the gentleman 
came. His questioner was Miriam's father. It 
would be a most awkward thing for him to re- 
fuse aid, or to accept it. How could he 
explain } 

"The surroundings are not as pleasant as 
I could wish, yet I think my duty bids me 
stay here," was his answer. 

Mr. Whitney pondered. At length, he said, — 

"Mr. Chamberlain, I wish that I could in 
some way serve you. There are numbers of 
young men from Steelville, for whom I have 
been instrumental in securing good positions in 



594 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



the city. My business relations are large. I en- 
joy giving a young man, who is worthy, a lift. 
Is there any thing that I can do.?'* 

There was a sincerity in the tone that couli 
not be doubted. Chamberlain wished that he 
were in a position to be helped, but there was 
no need of personal assistance. 

"There is abundant opportunity for any help 
that Christians can offer, in the line in which 
I am working," replied he. 

His caller made no reply, asked no question. 
Possibly he did not understand the allusion to 
tjie mission work. There was a moment of 
silence, during which each was busy with his 
own thoughts. The young man, in some per- 
plexity, wondered at the proud man's coming to 
see him, when he had so lately opposed him in 
the debate at the church meeting. Could he 
have looked into the other's heart, he would 
have seen that, while he was keen and quick 
m any business matter, and lordly in his bear- 
ing, there was at the same time an absence of 
vanity that was admirable. 

Mr. Whitney was in many respects a remark- 
able man. Very pronounced in his conclusions, 
full of the quickest insight into practical matters, 
he had the raxe quality of bearing no enmity 
toward those who opposed his opinions. He was 



MR. WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL. 395 

possessed of a shrewd, business-like charity, 
that was as sweet and wholesome as it was 
original. People often misunderstood him. They 
thought him proud while, in truth, he thought 
of himself but rarely. They called him close, 
— "snug," the countrymen termed it, — because 
he refused to pay more than an article was 
worth, yet he gave largely to various chari- 
ties, and had done more for the young men of 
the place and vicinity, than any other man of 
lis time. 

A rich man's son, of great natural ability, he 
lad been successful in whatever he undertook, 
ind this fact was, possibly, the chief grievance 
hat his neighbors had against him. He had 
leen brought up to use wine, and without in- 
vestigation believed it to be right. Very rarely 
vas he befogged by it as Chamberlain had seen 
lim, and fie doubtless tried to think that he 
vas only a trifle excited. 

"Is there no way in which I can help you?" 
'le asked. "We have a situation in our count- 
'ng-house, that I should be glad to see you fill. 
It would put you among people of your own 
kind, and give you an excellent opportunity to 
improve. You should be where you can grow. 
You certainly are not satisfied with your progress 
here?" 



39^ HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

"No, sir, I am not," was the honest answer. 
"But if I went away, what help should I be to 
Steep Street? It is my ambition to see liquor 
selling and liquor-drinking entirely banished from 
this settlement. I wish to see, instead of the 
drunken, brawling, Sabbath-breaking workman, a 
peaceable, honest, temperate man, who will serve 
the Lord instead of the Devil." 

"That is a most commendable ambition," said 
Mr. Whitney, approvingly, "but one, I fear, that 
cannot be realized. Now, I take it, that it is 
for the interest of the manufacturer to keep the 
help down. That is one reason I should never 
wish to be a mill-owner. There can be no 
money made where the help have every thing at 
their command. A drinking man will work for 
less wages than a sober man. He is more under 
the thumb of his employer. While this is so, 
there will be no reform in the file-works, at 
least while Lamson is at the head of it." 

Surprised at this view of the question. Cham- 
berlain stopped and thought for a moment. 

"There is 4ruth in what you say," he replied, 
**and yet, I cannot see that it is an advantage 
to the mill-owner to employ degraded help. 
More work is spoiled by the drunkards in the 
mill in a year, than would suffice to pay thera 
half a dollar a day more for wages. The last fire, 



MR. WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL. 397 

that cost nearly ten thousand dollars, was the 
result of a spree." 

*'I have not studied the question with any 
great care, as I am not specially interested in 
it, but to my knowledge, the little tumble-down 
mills, knee-deep in dirt, in which work a set 
who are as bad, if not worse than the file-men, 
pay the best dividends, while the handsomely 
furnished mills with the neat tenements and 
nicely tilled gardens and genteel help pay the 
smallest. While this is so, the money-makers 
will fight all reform." 

"For nearly two years I have studied this 
subject, having been daily among the men, and 
I am convinced that your deductions are 
wrong," was the respectful answer. *'Let us 
look at it from a business standpoint. One family 
of drinkers use, say, fifty cents* worth of liquor 
a day, and that is a small estimate. In a year 
they would consume one hundred and eighty- 
seven dollars and fifty cents* worth. Three hun- 
dred such families would be fifty-six thousancf, 
two hundred and fifty dollars a year. Now, that 
is what Steep Street pays for liquor. It is, of 
course, a damage. It neither feeds nor clothes 
the operatives. It renders them unfit for work ; 
after a drunk the work is slighted in a man- 
ner that an outsider would hardly credit. The 



39^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

mill pays out that money for the hands to throw 
away, and then is obliged to pay them for food, 
clothing, and all the costs of living besides. 
IIow does that help the dividends?" 

"To tell the truth, I have only repeated what 
some mill-owners have told me," was the reply. 
" I am not specially interested in the subject, 
yet I should think that a sober man, who saves 
his money, would be more independent, and 
more likely to leave, under a forced reduction of 
wages, than the improvident, hand-to-mouth sort," 

" The men who leave suddenly, unreasonably, 
when the work is going to rack and ruin for 
need of their help, are the drinkers," returned 
Chamberlain. "If they have no money, no credit, 
no hope for future employment, they plunge 
ahead, when a sober man would be thoughtful 
and prudent. Your friends argue that they dare 
not leave, being drunkards, because they can get 
work nowhere else ; but do they find the hard 
drinkers very loth to go to the poor-house ? 
And are not the mills, in their taxes, obliged 
to support a set of thriftless, useless creatures, 
that otherwise would be self-supporting > " 

"Do you believe, Mr. Chamberlain, that the 
file-works would be benefited if they constructed 
new tenements, stopped the sale of liquor, and 
hired only sober men ? " 



AfR. WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL. 399 

"I am sure of it. My experience has shown 
that the di inkers are continually damaging work, 
stopping important jobs, and making themselves 
most unreliable just when they are most needed. 
And there is another way to look at this mat- 
ter. No Christian has, I believe, a right to 
tolerate any evil among his help, that he can 
in any manner remove. A follower of Christ, 
who hires drunkards because they are cheap, 
puts a premium on sin and disgraces his pro- 
fession. An employer should feel great respon- 
sibility concerning his help. If the bosses of 
the mills only took an interest in the young 
men, and aided them in doing right, and re- 
moved opportunities for doing wrong, there 
would be a change in the laboring classes that 
would make the whole nation smile with pros- 
perity and peace." 

"You are eloquent," laughed the other. 

"I am in earnest. There are in the works 
men fiom all parts of the country, who have 
worked in most of the large mills, — not alone 
file workers, but in cotton, rubber, woolen and 
other manufactories and foundries. I have fre- 
quently questioned them about things in those 
places, and find that the works here are a fair 
average of what may be found throughout the 
Union. People of the better class, even if they 



40O HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

saw it with their own eyes, would contradict it, 
because they cannot see, as do those who are 
inside of the lines." 

** Really, I am getting interested. Do you in« 
tend, single-handed, to combat this state of affairs t " 

"I intend," answered Chamberlain, slowly, 
"one day to be a manufacturer. My mill shall 
be run carefully, frugally. Every man shall be 
required to do his duty if he can do it. No 
drunkard shall find lodgment within the g^tes 
of the mill-yard, and no drop of liquor shall be 
brought into the mill settlement. As far as 
feasible, I shall know what my men do even- 
ings, and shall give them plenty of opportunity 
to indulge in pleasant and , profitable amuse- 
ments. The whole place shall be run in the 
fear of the Lord." 

"Do you think it practicable?" 

"I believe that the fear of the Lord is the 
beginning of all wisdom, whether it be running 
a mill or a Sunday-school." 

"So do I," assented Mr. Whitney. "By the 
way," continued he, "you have not yet told me 
what I can do to help you out in this } " 

Then came the moment of trial. Rather would 
he have been silent; but a voice within him 
gave him no choice but to obey, so te said 
respectfully, — 



MR. WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL, 4OI 

" Mr. Whitney, I staid last night with a man 
who has been a very hard drinker, and who was 
hurt in the mill. For some time he has been 
willing to lead a better life. He hates the 
thought of * giving up his liberty' — as he terms 
it. Even on the verge of delirium-tremens he 
will urge that the aristocrats have their wine, 
and why should not he have an equal liberty 
with whiskey.?" 

"But he should know that he cannot control 
himself." 

" Exactly ; but such men reason queerly. He 
says, when I plead with him, that when a cer- 
tain man in the upper town is willing to give 
up his wine, he will leave off drinking, and not 
until then." 

" Who is the wine-drinker ? " 

"Mr. Whitney," said Chamberlain, growing a trifle 
pale; "the man who is going to destruction, for 
the sake of this whim, is Swinert, the drunkard ; 
and the gentleman, whom he daily quotes and 
glories over as being a moderate drinker, and 
able to hold his own, and stay in the church, 
to serve the Lord and drink fine wiuies at the 
same time, — is yourseli" 



403 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



XXIX. 

^^'BT *s a mighty good man whose place can't be 
^ filled by somebody," Gaffney remarked, as 
one after another of his friends had dropped 
into the little bed-room, and told him of Lam- 
son's flight, and the uneasy feeling that pervaded 
in the village. 

Among those who most enjoyed Lamson's ab- 
sence, and hoped it might be indefinitely pro- 
longed, was Chamberlain. He was at once sorry 
and glad, for he looked ahead of the avalanche 
of cares with no little anxiety. After the flight, 
he had received a call from another lawyer of 
the town, who announced himself as one of the 
gentlemen who were to assure themselves that 
Chamberlain's part of the contract was carried 
out. He was pleased at this, as he could not 
but worry a little over his approachnig trial, 
when he knew that the one to whom in par- 



BREAKING THE RING. 4^3 

ticular his uncle had entrusted the management 
of the plan had so signally failed in his duty. 

Several days after this, Chamberlain was walk- 
ing rapidly away from the hamlet toward the 
distant hills. It was the last day of his trial 
as laborer. Suddenly he heard his name called. 
He had reached a considerable elevation where 
he could look back, even on Steep Street. For 
an instant he was puzzled to know from what 
direction the voice came ; it had a familiar sound 
that made his heart leap with joy. How well 
be had learned the varied music of that voice I 
Scanning the roadside with rapid glance, he saw 
beneath the bending branches of an apple-tree 
that had managed to live its whole life outside 
of the civilized restraints of stone walls, a pony 
phaeto*^; in it sat Miss Whitney. Her black 
horse was contentedly eating the leaves from the 
tree, and switching flies at the same time. 

" I am afraid I did wrong in speaking, you 
looked so preoccupied ; but I wished so much 
to tell you some good news," she said, with a 
deep blush. 

" I am very glad you did speak ; and good news is 
always welcome," replied Chamberlain, coming un 
der the canopy of leaves. 

"Do yDu remember — of course you do — that 
queer Swinert, whom you wished some of the 



404 HIS OPPORTUmTY. 

teachers in the misMon-school, myself among the 
number, to call upon ? *' 

"I do." 

"He said that he would give up his liquor 
when my father gave up wine. Father, at first, 
after you told him of it, was quite disturbed. 
He thought the man insufferably impudent, and 
I doubt not, still thinks so ; but he reasoned 
with himself about it, and what do you think 
he did.?" 

"I guess " 

"Don't guess, I wish to tell you. After some 
little debating with himself, like the grandly up- 
right man that he is, he wrote Swinert, telling 
him that if his drinking wine caused him to 
stumble, he would never drink another drop. I 
saw the letter ; it was courteous, polite, splendid. 
Oh, it made me so happy ! I don't know of 
another man in the world who would have been 
so considerate of the feelings of that poor wretch, 
whom he had never seen, as my dear, old 
father. I am proud of him." 

"That is indeed glorious news. Now, if Swin- 
ert will only keep to his promise, your father 
will have the satisfaction of knowing that he has 
saved at least one from a drunkard's grave." 

" Swinert answered at once, signing a queer 
pledge that he himself had drawn up. In it ho 



BREAKING THE RING. 4^5 

promised several things ; among others, to give 
the mission-school, 'God bless it,' a good, solid 
lift by his weekly presence," 

" I am very glad," replied Chamberlain. 

*'Do you know, Mr. Chamberlain, that there 
is altogether a different atmosphere in this vil- 
lage than what there was before you came } 
father remarked it. It should make you very 
happy to feel that you can do so much good 
among the workmen." 

"As I look back over the two years spent 
here, I am filled with wonder. Certainly, God 
uses any willing instrument. I have prayed and 
struggled in a poor way, and he has given his 
blessing. But the prayers of Pastor Snow, and 
your Aunt Whittier, were not unheard. It seems 
to me, as I think of it, that one who doubts 
the efficacy of prayer, after having seen what it 
has accomplished in Steep Street, must indeed 
be blind ' 

" You are right. I would that I had more 
faith. I believe I see a work opening among 
my boys that leads me to covet power in 
pra)er. I cannot tell you, Mr. Chamberlain, 
how much happier I am since I have tried to 
do a little for the factory people. Why, before 
I knew them, I actually despised them. I ara 
sorry and ashamed that I ever entertained such 



406 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

feelings, but I think it was the prejudice arising 
from ignorance." 

" The future of Steep Street depends on the 
people of the upper settlement and the owners 
of the file-works," said Chamberlain. 

"And Sam Putnam." 

"Yes. There is another signal answer to our 
prayers, — the conversion of Putnam. His in- 
fluence with the men is unbounded. There is 
little doubt, so I hear, that the engine company- 
will really become a temperance organization." 

Chamberlain stood for an instant in silence, 
looking into the fair face before him. He saw 
reflected in it his own enthusiasm, and, as the 
brown eyes fell beneath his gaze, he hoped he 
read something more. 

" Could man or woman have a grander life- 
work than raising such a village as this from 
its sin and ignorance into the marvelous light 
of the Gospel.?" asked Chamberlain. 

" I think not," was the low reply. 

"And even though a man labor with his 
hands, when he is striving to win souls, it does 
not degrade him?" said he, with tremulous 
voice. 

" Saint Paul was a tent-maker, and a greater 
than he, — the Lord, — was a carpenter," was the 
gentle response. 



BREAKING THE RING. 4^7 

Chamberlain reached over the wheel and 
clasped the little hand that fluttered for an in- 
stant, and then lay still in his firm clasp. 

" Can we not join hands for life in this 
work ? " he said. 

The brown eyes were raised to his face with 
a grave, earnest expression, as she said, simply 
and without a falter, — 

"Yes." 

He drew from his watch-chain the curiously- 
chased ring, so worn that it was but a shell of 
gold, and crushing it between his strong fin- 
gers, broke one side, leaving the band in one 
curling piece. 

"It is an old, perhaps a forgotten custom," 
he said, holding it out to Miriam. 

She understood, and with the same sweet 
gravity broke with him the ring, retaining half 
as a seal of betrothal. Tenderly, almost rever- 
ently, he kissed the red lips, thanking God in 
his heart for his present overflowing happiness. 

As the sun was already setting. Chamberlain 
walked as far as the village by the side of the 
phaeton, and then, with a pressure of the hand 
and a look eloquent with true affection, took 
leave, to finish his walk. It seemed as if he 
had reached the climax of his life. Happy that 
Steep Street already was showing signs of spir- 



408 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

itual life; that no rum-shop flourished there; 
that the people were bountifully supplied with 
pure water ; that Temple had returned and pro- 
claimed his intention of serving the Lord ; that 
Sam Putnam and Gaffney were henceforth to be 
true soldiers of the Cross, — happy in all this, 
he felt that the only other thing that he could 
ask, — the love of Miriam Whitney, — had been 
granted him. With great thankfulness, he knelt 
in a nook by the roadside and prayed earnestly. 
Then he rose and walked on toward this new 
life, determined, with God's help, when he was 
''village king," to be, also, His village laborer. 



A LESSON IN CHEMISTRY, 409 



XXX. 

c/T. • LSessor) • ir) • fe<l)err)isf j»v. 

T was raining. A genuine north-easterly storm, 
that for twenty-four hours had threatened and 
lowered, at last in good earnest was fulfilling its 
menace. Cold as the spray of the ocean, driv- 
ing in slanting lines over sodden fields, "lodging" 
acres of heavy grass, beating off leaves not yet 
yellow, soaking every thing, till fences, tree-trunks, 
and even stone walls took on a water-logged ap- 
pearance ; — it was the typical "three-days' rain" 
of New England. Along a country road, splash- 
ing through the many puddles, came a traveler. 
lie was to all appearance a laborer, on his way 
from one village to another in search of work. 
Over his shoulder he carried a stout stick, which 
was thrust through the handles of a small, 
shabby valise. The uncomfortable weather appar- 
ently had its effect upon the lonely pedestrian, 
for an ugly scowl was on his face. From time 
to time he looked about for a farm-house or 



4XO HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

barn that could afford shelter, but without suc- 
cess. As he journeyed, night fell, and still the 
long reaches of woodland, the ill-kept mowing 
lands, and the alder-circled meadows stretched 
out as if there were naught else in the world. 
Wet to the skin, and chilled to the bone, he 
plodded stolidly on ; more and more discouraged 
at not finding a habitation of some sort. At 
length, far away across the fields, he descried a 
solitary light. Thinking it would proffer a warm 
supper and a bed, he eagerly turned toward it. 
A " short cut " in the night, across uneven 
fields, hedge-bound and half-cleared, means hard 
work. The uncertain light hides the hollows, re- 
duces distances, and leads one into sudden, dis- 
locating steps, that are painful if not danger- 
ous. When the light was reached, the traveler 
was not a little surprised to find himself on the 
borders of a great salt-marsh, and facing a num- 
ber of brick buildings enclosed by a high fence. 
What kind of manufactory it was, so far from 
human habitation, with no clustering tenement- 
houses, with a weed-grown cart-path leading to 
it from the distant road, he could not imagine. 
Yet it promised shelter, and on the whole, per- 
haps, the fact of its strange isolation might make 
the watchman the more accessible and ready to 
entertain a wayfarer. As he drew nearer, a pe- 



A LESSON IN CHEMISTRY. 4^1 

>— — ' — — — — — 

culiar odor was discernible, that he remembered 
before to have known, but where his weary mem- 
01 y could not recall. At the gate he knocked 
loudly with the end of his heavy stick, and 
awaited answer. None came, and again he knocked. 
The light shone calmly from within, yet there 
was no sign of life; and it looked as if he must, 
after all, be disappointed, and spend the night in 
the lee of the fence, when, in response to a third 
attack with the cane, that filled the empty yard 
with echoes, a wicket opened,' and a thin voice 
said, — 

"Who's there.?" 

" Can you give me a bed t I am wet through, 
and not able to go a step farther ! " 

"Who be yer.?" was the suspicious query. 

"My name is Lam — " began the tired trav- 
eler, but stopped as if influenced by a sudden 
thought, with a look that might mean self-accu- 
sation of great stupidity. 

"Wal, Mr. Lamb, you may be all right, or 
you may be all wrong; I don't know. You kin 
come in," said the voice, and the side gate swung 
open. 

The other accepted the invitation with alacrity, 
and entered the yard, the gate closing after him 
with a vigorous thud. While he stood looking 
around to see with whom he had been speaking, 



412 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

the door of a low, brick building opened, a faint 
light streamed out, and the same voice bade him 
enter. He did so, but had hardly crossed the 
threshold when he recoiled, a real terror impressed 
upon his features. Before him stood a man, clad 
in a red flannel shirt and canvas trousers, his 
scrawny, skeleton-like arms bare to the shoulder, 
the veins swelling and bulging in a horrid net- 
work that the absence of flesh made the more 
apparent. The great hands — one resting on his 
hip, the other holding a lamp — were nailless. 
His face and head were without hair; his huge 
mouth toothless. An unhealthy complexion, inde- 
scribable in its color, and a pair of prominent 
eyes that seemed straining to get out of their 
feverish sockets, completed the make-up of this 
monstrosity. 
^ " You are welkim," he said. 

** What kind of a place is this ? " demanded the 
stranger, in a shaky voice. 

" Kimical-works." 

"What is it smells so.?'' 

"The acids. Dretful onhealthy place. Guess 
fou ain't used to seein* folks that work in these 
places, be yer t Look kinder scared ; but, bless 
ye, I ain't a sarcumstance to the old man that 
was here before me. Why, when he went to 
town, the women folks used to faint away, he 



A LESSON IN- CHEMISTRY. 4^3 

looked so skeery; but then he had begun to 
unj'int." 

"Unjoint?** 

"Yes. The acid had worked on him so long 
that it eat him clean up. They was n*t hardly 
enough of him to bury ! '* 

The visitor glanced from the livid face down 
to the slippered feet, from which protruded a 
couple of toes, from which the nails had fallen, 
and shuddered. 

"You are a-shiverin* with cold," said the other, 
hospitably. "Come into the furnace-room." 

The stranger followed him in, and was soon 
dressed in dry clothes, and enjoying a cup of hot 
cofifce made over the coals. Even the kindness of 
his host did not serve to dispel the horror that 
his uncanny looks inspired ; and to avoid betray- 
ing his feelings, the guest kept his eyes upon 
the glowing coals, and away from the grim visage. 
There was, however, a fascination that drew his 
gaze, again and again, back to the face, which 
lost none of its frightfulness as it grew more 
familiar. 

Besides its use as a furnace-room, the further 
end of the apartment was a store-room for the 
products of the works. Across a long, frail plat- 
form stretched a line of glass carboys, nearly all 
of which were filled with a greenish-colored liquid 



414 If IS OPPORTUNITY. 

Whether it was the color of the thick glass, or 
not, that tinged the contents, the observer could 
not decide. 

"There is acid enough there to bum up a 
town," remarked the host, observing the look 
" It 's dretful powerful. Drop most any thing in- 
to that, and it will eat it clean up." 

" Why do you work in such a place as this } 
It is killing you. A few years hence, and you 
will be in your grave. Why don't you leave .^" 
broke out the visitor. 

" Leave } Do you know, Mister, I git eight 
dollars a day for what I do .? " was the triumph- 
ant reply. 

" Eight dollars a day ! What would a hundred 
dollars a day be in comparison with what you 
lose } It 's wicked ! You have no right, for a 
little money, to throw away your life." 

" Oh, sho ! I 've heerd folks talk afore now. 
Unless a man kills himself jest in the fashionable 
way, he is doing a wickedness. Why, there ain't 
a third of the business men but what dies years 
afore they'd oughter. And as fer killin' yersclf 
fer money — that 's nothin'. It ain't to be com- 
pared to crowdin' the widders and the fatherless, 
or to sellin' rum for money, or stealin' from those 
that trust ye." 

The visitor winced, and lapsed into silence, 



A LESSON TN CHEMISTRY. 4^5 

looking fixedly at the uncouth bottles that held 
in solution such a dangerous force. 

"Be you interested in kimistry?" 

*' No ; not especially." 

" If you be, I kin show you some curous things 
about the acid. I tell ye, it's jest like a raven- 
ing beast when it gits to eatin*. I 'd like to 
show ye in the mornin'." 

The other expressed a languid interest, and then 
inquired about his bed. With true hospitality the 
watchman made him up a "shake-down" at the 
further end of the furnace-room, where he could 
lie with his feet toward the fire. Back of him, 
in a double row, stood the long lines of carboys. 
With his valise under the mattress that was 
laid on the cement floor, the visitor disrobed 
and was soon sound asleep. The watchman, after 
attending to the fires, wandered off alone to 
smoke, and a stillness, only broken by long-drawn, 
bubbling sighs from the "vats," enfolded the fur- 
nace-room. After an hour the stranger suddenly 
woke, and starting up, felt under the mattress 
for his valise. It was safe, and he sank back, 
and from his couch looked keenly about for the 
watchman. He was nowhere in sight, and stirred 
by a second thought:, the stranger drew the valise 
out and slipped it into a mammoth rubber pail 
that stood in front of the carboys. A sheet of 



4^6 HIS OPPORTUNITY 

rubber cloth that lay on the floor was carelessly 
thrown over the whole, and with a satisfied look 
he returned to bed, and in a few moments was 
soundly slumbering. A half hour later the watch- 
man came in, stirred the fire, glanced at his 
guest, and again went to his little office in the 
adjoining building. 

The sleeper did not waken when the "slicer bar" 
rang on the bricks, or when the slippered feet 
scuffed noisily across the cemented floor. Neither 
did he waken when the frail support that held 
the carboys began to creak ominously and to 
bend under a weight that had long been too 
heavy to be borne in safety. Slowly three of 
the mammoth bottles tipped forward a fraction 
of an inch at a time, till the sudden snap threw 
them entirely over, their long necks resting on 
the stout guard that was used as a "pouring- 
rail.'* After rolling and clashing one against the 
other for an instant, they were still, and the 
danger that had threatened the sleeper, should 
their burning contents be thrown over him, ap- 
peared to be arrested. The rubber stoppers held 
back the liquid that leaped eagerly into the bot- 
tle-mouths. The stoppers held at first, but soon 
from one came a single drop of acid. Then an- 
other and another, till the loosened plug gave 
way, and a stream was flowing out, not upon 



A LESSON IN CHEMISTRY. 4^7 



the fldor, but into the rubber pail. Beating 
down the cloth cover that the stranger had with 
such artfulness disposed so as to conceal his 
valise, it rapidly filled the vessel and then spread 
out over the floor. 

Untroubled by any dream of danger to himself 
or his belongings, the stranger slumbered peace- 
fully on. Occasionally through the night the 
watchman entered, replenished the fire, and 
scuffed out again. Once the traveler turned over, 
partly roused, but with a deep, weary sigh dropped 
back into dreamland. The chemical-works rats, — 
for even this place was not free from them, 
although according to the traditions of the work- 
men, they lodged somewhere else, — scampered 
about, and even mounted the bed, but did not 
disturb the sleeper. 

Outside, the rain still fell heavily, and as the 
wind had risen, it was flung against the side 
windows. That the sleep of the wayfarer was 
not without dreams, his occasional disjointed sen- 
tences and feverish breathing testified, yet none 
of the sounds of the night served to impress 
him with a remembrance of his surroundings. 

The morning had given place to noon ere he 
roused from his stupor and awaked to the fact 
that it was time he was pursuing his journey^ 
As he dressed, the watchm,an, who seemed to 



41 S HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

work night and day, came in, and greeted him 
with a good-natured smile that made hiin look 
like a genial fiend. 

" Slep' well ? " he inquired. 

"Yes, very. I was thoroughly tired out. What 
time is it.!*" 

" Quarter-past twelve." 

With an exclamation of surprise at the lateness 
of the hour the stranger turned to his treasured 
valise. As he saw the three carboys tipped so 
far over, the one almost empty, and the rubber 
pail brimming with acid, he uttered a half shriek, 
half groan, and sprang toward it. But the watch- 
nan, till now so obtuse, suddenly awoke and 
was before him, holding him back with a terri- 
fied look on his face, that made him if possible 
more ugly than ever. 

"Are yer crazy?" he said to the struggling 
man. 

"My valise is in that pail," gasped the stranger. 

"Well, I will get it; you stand back. Do you 
want your hands burned off.?" 

The fit of frenzy over, the other stood passively 
back, and allowed the watchman to search with 
a short poker through the mammoth pail for his 
property. First the rubber cloth came up, black, 
shiny, and dripping, not in the least injured by 
the acid. Then he poked further, fished further, 



A LESSOAT IN CHEMISTRY. 4^9 

and at length brought up a queer skeleton frame, 
with burned shreds of leather hanging to it, that 
looked not at all like his property. 

" That *s yer valise, all except the sides, and 
yer change of clothes," remarked the man. 

"But — but get out the rest. There was 
money," came in a weak voice. 

"Bills?" 

"Yes." 

The watchman put the poker in again, and 
poked and poked, at last bringing up a black 
mass that fell upon the floor — a shapeless, use- 
less bunch of pulp. 

"All eat up," he said. 

The stranger sank down on the bed, white and 
trembling. 

"Look — look again!" 

"No use, Mr. Lamb." 

"Lamson," corrected the other, mechanically. 

"Thought you said it was Lamb; but never 
mind. There ain't no use lookin* furder ; the 
acid has eat it all up. Sorry if its strapped 
you. If you *re specially hard put, I can lend 
ye a dollar." 

"A dollar!" almost shrieked the sufferer. "Do 
you know what I have lost.^ There were forty 
thousand dollars in that bag! I have spent years 
in gaining them. I have lied, cheated, lived a 



420 HIS OPPORTUNITY 

hypocrite, struck hands with sharpers and thieves, 
and oppressed the helpless, to gain that, and now 
it is all gone!" 

" That *s worse than bein* a laborer in the 
kimical-works," was the remark. 

But his sarcasm was not heeded. The other, 
with bowed head, with a look of unrelieved 
hopelessness, went and sat down in front of 
the furnace, buried his face in his hands, and 
indulged in bitter reflections. 



TRYING IT ON. 421 



XXXI. 

REAT changes often come quietly. With a 
certain apprehension the file-hands received 
the news that Chamberlain had been placed at 
the head of the business. There was, at first, 
a feeling that he had been playing the spy, 
until it was known that Robert Flint had ar- 
ranged the whole affair, and then they were 
satisfied. "Old Skinflint" always got ahead of 
the help when he was alive, and, though dead, 
he still kept up his reputation, was the univer- 
sal thought. That the advent of a new "boss," 
up in all the mysteries of the trade, acquainted 
with the many means of shirking that were 
among the men, aware of the "soft jobs" and 
the lax habits, should affect them all, was highly 
probable. 

To many, the fact that Chamberlain was a 
"church-member" was most unpleasant. Some 



4^2 If IS OPPORTUNITY. 

sincerely believed that all piety was a sham. 
Their learning, drawn from such living epistles 
as Lamson, was faulty, but honest. Divided in 
opinion, the operatives held long and serious 
consultations. The boiler-room, the coal-yard, the 
slag-heaps, were debating grounds, where word- 
battles raged with varying success. Sam Put- 
nam, Gaffney, and Tam McDonald, — the last- 
named having returned to the mill, — were the 
champions of the new order of things. They 
had many opponents. Even before a single 
change had been inaugurated, the operatives felt 
aggressive. They longed for an opportunity 
to show their feelings. The changes, however, 
came so gradually, so differently from what they 
expected, that they did not do themselves jus- 
tice, so they thought, which nettled them the 
more. In addition to this, the older men were 
indignant that a boy should presume to assume 
control of a corporation that gray heads had 
heretofore managed. If their advdce was asked, 
they intended to let him know how they felt. 
But the opportunity, much to their chagrin, did 
not present itself. The days passed, the work 
went on, and the men found other things to 
grumble about. The wave of excitement spent 
itself without doing damage. 

When the business was well running again, 



TRYING IT ON. 4^3 



and all seemed propitious, Chamberlain one 
evening sent word to the various heads of de- 
partments, that he wished to meet them in the 
packing-room after the whistle blew. It was 
with some uneasiness that most of them gath- 
ered in the spacious room. They were not kept 
waiting long. Advancing from the office, the 
** new boss " stood before the group, and at 
once plunged into his theme. 

"It is customary," he said, "for all concerns 
doing business to have certain rules, — not to 
crowd the help and get as much as possible 
out of them, but that they may know just 
what they are expected to do. The employes 
have their rights, and the corporation has its 
rights. A schedule of minor rules has already 
been drawn up and printed. It relates to the 
time for coming and going, the rights of time- 
workers and piece-hands, and has already been 
seen by those of you whose departments it 
touches. There is, however, one rule that I 
have not caused to be printed, but the enforce- 
ment of which I deem most important." 

Chamberlain paused for an instant, and meas- 
ured the men before him with a keen glanca 
He saw an enmity in some faces, an indiffer- 
ence in others, a fear in a few. One or two 
»ooked friendly. 



424 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

"The rule of which I speak will, doubtless, 
seem to many of you to be arbitrary, but to 
the management it is believed to be necessary. 
It is this : After this week, no drinking men 
will be employed by this company, in any ca- 
pacity. We have, as I have already stated, 
weighed this matter with extreme care. /Iny 
thing that we can do to break the chain of 
habit that binds some of the help, will be done, 
but from henceforth, this corporation intends 
to discourage the use and the sale of ardent 
spirits to the very best of its ability. Sober 
men will be valued — will be assisted in every 
way that is in our power. Unsteady men, 
'spreers,* can neither expect work in the mill, 
nor shelter in the company's tenements. This 
rule has not been drawn up thoughtlessly. Its 
enforcement will, we trust, result in the greatest 
good that this village has ever enjoyed. The 
love of liquor is a disease, the worst disease 
this world has ever known. To eradicate it 
thoroughly from Steelville, stem measures are 
required. 

"I have gathered the superintendents and 
foremen of this establishment, not to harshly 
announce a rule that may seem to abridge per- 
sonal liberty, but to claim your sympathy and 
assistance. No sane man could live on Steep 



TRYING IT ON. 425 



Street a day, and not appreciate the curse that 
broods over it. No reasonable man in all this 
great establishment will deny the harm that the 
drinking habits are inflicting upon the operatives. 
The wrecks of homes, and the wrecks of human 
beings, men, women, and even little children, 
can be daily seen. Steep Street, the most 
wretched settlement the sun ever shone upon, 
poisoned, degraded, by continual drunkenness, 
calls to us for help. We alone, under God, 
can give it assistance. 

" If there are any here who are not willing 
to help, who will see souls perish rather than 
throw the weight of their influence on the 
right side, let them assert it. We shall under- 
stand, by your presence in the mill, that you 
bind yourselves to carry out the rules of the 
corporation. And not only that, but we shall 
expect from you all an earnest sympathy, an 
untiring vigilance, and all possible aid in fur- 
thering this best gift to those under your im- 
mediate charge." 

Chamberlain paused, having spoken longer 
than was his first intention. A rigid silence had 
prevailed in the room throughout it all. The 
faces of the men, whether stolid or expressive, 
told of surprise, and, in some cases, of rebellion. 
When he had ceased speaking, there was an 



426 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 



uneasy movement, and then one who had been, 
for years, a department superintendent, stepped 
forward as if to speak. He was a tall, broad- 
shouldered, noble-looking old man. He was 
known as an impressive speaker, a keen debater. 
Clearing his throat, he said, in a deep, resonant 
voice, and, perhaps, a touch of condescension, — • 
" Mr. Chamberlain, I think that the energy 
of your character, that your earnest wish to be 
a reformer, is leading you into a serious mis- 
take. You are fresh from school. It is natural 
that you should look upon the men gathered 
here as school-boys of a larger growth, but 
there you are wrong. A school-boy can claim 
no liberty beyond that granted by pedagogue or 
parent, — a laborer can. He has arrived at 
man's estate, and is jealous of all his rights 
and privileges. Any attempt to curtail his lib- 
erty in the slightest is immediately resented. 
There are, among us, men from England, from 
Germany, from Russia, from oppressed Ireland, 
who have come here to be free. Your laws 
might do in a land where despotism prevailed, 
but here they can never succeed. All will 
rebel. I am an old man, Mr. Chamberlain. My 
gray hairs will protect me in saying what 
younger men could not say. I, too, have the 
interest of the operatives at heart. I, too, de- 



TRYING IT ON. A^7 



spise che rum-bottle. It is my belief, however, 
that a man has a right to destroy himself by 
debauchery, if he wishes. In this country he is 
his own master. You have made a strong and 
beautiful garment of these rules, Mr. Chamber- 
lain, but it won't fit Steep Street, and I beg 
that you will not try it on." 

Th,ere was a tendency to applaud among the 
small audience, but Chamberlain's reply checked 
it. 

"Every man has a right, in a certain sense, 
to degrade himself as much as he wishes. 
That, however, is not germane to this question. 
We are discussing, rather, the rights of the 
corporation. We claim, and justly> that we can 
hire whom we please. We choose, hereafter, to 
employ sober men. All are at liberty to drink 
if they wish, but not in our work-rooms, in 
our tenements, nor in our village." 

"Mr. Chamberlain," said Wilcox, a black-eyed, 
wiry little man, a hard worker, and an occa- 
sional hard drinker, "are you not coming down 
on us a little bit suddenly.? We thought you 
were our friend. A good many of the boys 
have been thinking seriously of leaving off 
drinking, but I am afraid this will anger them. 
You can't drive a man into goodness. If he 
goes at all he must be led." 



428 ms OPPORTUNITY. 

"Mr. Wilcox, were you aware that the fact 
that the liquors that are drunk in the mill cost us 
yearly a large sum for insurance ? That we pay 
a heavier rate than any other file-manufactory in 
the country? Did you know that respectable 
companies were afraid to insure our tenements, 
occupied, as they are in some cases, by families 
made crazy through drink ? Do you remember 
the fire in Number Nine, that cost us ten 
thousand dollars ? The right to drink rum in 
the mill was the cause of that fire. Do you 
remember when the * three-chimney tenement- 
house * burnt, sacrificing two lives } It was set 
by a drunken filp-grinder. It cost the company 
two thousand dollars. Were you aware that in 
the past two years thousands of dollars* worth 
of file-stock has been wasted and destroyed by 
workmen, who were skilful when sober, but 
bunglers wh/^n drunk 1 Are not these reasons 
enough co warrant any business house in pro- 
tecting itself } Let me assure you all most earn- 
estly that my interest in the men has not ceased, 
that I will do all I possibly can. Every man in 
the mill may consider me his personal friend. I 
earnestly believe that the most confirmed sot 
among us will be benefited by this rule." 

"Going to be pretty tough on them that live on 
'iquor," remarked another. " There are men in 



TRYING IT ON. 429 



the mill here, to my certain knowledge, — good, 
reliable fellows, — that can no more do without 
their daily drink than they could without their 
daily breath. If they gave up liquor they would 
die in a week. They have worked faithfully, year 
in and year out, till they have grown gray in 
the service. They have done much to build up 
this 'ere business. Seems as if they might have 
some tapering-off rule." 

Sam Putnam answered this, — 

"Boys," he said, in his old-time, hearty way, 
"what bosh it is to talk of a man dying for 
want of liquor, and you know it ! When these 
old rummies, that are fairly pickled in whiskey, 
are * up for thirty days,' do they die } Yet 
they have to do without liquor. The fact of it 
is, more than half of us have got an awful 
hankering after the ardent, and we are ashamed 
to own it. We might just as well be men and 
face it and fight it, and thank God we have 
got a boss to help us. It is time some sort of a 
change came to Steep Street. I have done my 
share in dragging the folks of this village down, 
and now I am going to turn round and drag 
them up. It is a fight with me every day of 
my life, to keep free from liquor. I never, till 
lately, realized that I had such an appetite. 
That it can be conquered, I have daily proof. I 



430 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

don't believe in molly-coddling a set of old men 
into poisoning themselves to death, and you 
don't. I don't think that anybody's liberties are 
trampled on when rum is forbidden, any more 
than I do when a law is made against picking 
pockets, or committing murder, and you don't. 
If we don't kill rum, rum will kill us." 

As there seemed nothing further to say, the 
men, with Chamberlain's permission, dispersed. 
When they were fairly outside of the mill 
premises, the restraint that his presence 
imposed, gave way. Very freely they talked, — 
most excitedly they debated the question. The 
almost unanimous verdict was against the new 
method of procedure. 

"I tell you," said Chapman, stroking his gray 
beard, "that boy don't appreciate the situation. 
He is puffed up by being boss. His scheme 
won't work. Just let him try it on." 

"He will try it, he is gritty enough to do 
most any thing," said Wilcox. 

"Yes," was the sage answer. "No doubt he 
will try it, but how long will it last } Not two 
weeks. It will begin with a great rush and 
crash and clang, and then die right down into 
nothhig. Men will have rum. Nothing, in my 
opinion, can quench the appetite. This boy boss 
of outs thinks a few threats will scare the taste 



TRYING IT ON. 43 ^ 



out of the guzzlers' mouths. That is a taste 
that has come to stay." 

•*I tell you, Chapman," interrupted Sam Put- 
nam, "you fellows that don't drink a drop, and 
yet are always helping others to, are, in my es- 
timation, the meanest sort of men. You are worse 
than the rumsellers. They advise a man to drink 
that they may make a living ; you do it for 
nothing. You talk about rum-drinking coming to 
stay; there is something mightier than that has 
arrived. The temperance movement, under the 
leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ, has 
arrived here in Steelville. It has not come for 
a little while. It is n't going to stop only just 
as long as our boss is interested in it ; it has 
come for good; it has come to stay." 

"Amen," said Gaffney. 

It was four o'clock in the afternoon. The 
regular, pulsing throb of the mighty engines, the 
confused din of the steel-working machines, came 
at intervals through the opening and closing 
doors of the factory, to the cosy office of the 
young mill-owner. Work was pressing. Scores 
of orders, as yet unfilled, covered the pages of 
the order book. The puddling furnaces, running 
to the utmost of their capacity, kept every man 
busy. 

A gray, grizzled Scotchman, a man of power- 



432 HTS OPPORTUNITY. 

ful build, but bent and warped like some knotty 
plank of oak, his face seamed with time-scars 
and sin-scars, the great muscles bulging on his 
bony arms, his whole face reeking with perspira- 
tion, strode to the office door and loudly rapped. 

"Come," said Chamberlain. 

Pausing on the threshold, he looked aggres- 
sively from beneath his bushy eyebrows. 

"I'm come to tal yer that the men will no 
wark without their liquor," he said, emphasizing 
his statement with a vigorous nod. 

"Do you mean they cannot, or they will not?" 
asked Chamberlain. 

^Baith." 

"The heats have been very severe-this week," 
said Chamberlain, reflectively. "It is hard work. 
I appreciate that as much as any one. I ordered 
coffee to be served to the men an hour ago. 
Was it not done ? " 

"Aye," was the savage answer. "They brought 
us some milk-and-water stuff, that weakened the 
men rather than strengthened them, so we poured 
it over the slag-heap. What we want is the real 
stuff, and we'll have it, or your wark will no 
be dune." 

"Did the men wish you to speak to mc about 
this.?" inquired Chamberlain, quietly. 

"They did that, and they bade me tell yer, 



TRYING IT ON 433 



if the liquor was not on hand within the hour, 
the furnaces would take care of themselves. Do 
you hear that?" 

Without answering, the other took up a pen 
and began to write. For fully five minutes his 
pen scratched busily over the paper; the puddler 
watching him with an ugly frown. Becoming 
uneasy, at length, he said, — 

"What '11 I tell them.?" 

"Who.?" was the absent inquiry. 

"Why, man alive 1 the men who are aboot to 
strike." 

"I don't know that there is any thing to tell 
them. No liquor shall be drunk in the factory, 
if not another file is ever made." 

With an angry growl, the Scotchman stalked 
away. When he was fairly out of sight, Cham- 
berlain stepped to the outer office and handed 
a slip of paper to one of the clerks. The young 
man, taking it, read it through, rose hastily and 
went into the small telegraph office that was con- 
nected with the mill. Placing his finger on th« 
key he wrote, — 

"Send the spare puddlers on the night freight. 

Chamberlain.'* 

Meanwhile, around the furnaces, were gathered 
an excited company. The puddlers, with one or 



434 HIS OPPORTUNITY, 

two exceptions, feeling that they had the mill- 
owner at their mercy, were determined here to 
make a stand and assert their rights. 

Without them the mill could not run. Brawny 
men, hard drinkers, hard workers, they were, and 
as they group'ed themselves about their leader, 
who was none other than the Scotchman, they 
felt able to battle against all the capital that Steel- 
ville possessed. They were not particularly angry 
with the "young boss," as they called him. 
They were, on the contrary, pleased that they 
should have opportunity gently and effectually 
to squelch him. After canvassing the matter at 
length, it was decided that the puddlers, of all 
men in the mill, could best afford to lead the 
strike. The new rule was specially hard on 
them. Heretofore they had been accustomed to 
drink liquor by the quart. Their work being 
difficult, they received high pay. There were 
none others in the mill who could fill their 
places. It was therefore decided that they 
should quietly and unostentatiously absent 
themselves until the obnoxious law was repealed 
It was further decided with deep craft, that all 
the other operatives should be in their places 
punctually at the usual time, should use up their 
stock as rapidly as possible, then stand round 
sad and empty-handed, yearning for worL 



TRYING IT ON. 435 



The morning came. The puddlers remained 
at home, complacently smoking. By noon, they 
calculated, the stock would be used up, and the 
machines stopped for want of work. But the 
dinner-whistles blew, the engines started again, 
and all through the afternoon the white rings of 
steam, puffing from the exhaust-pipes, proved to the 
outside world that the strike had stopped not 
a single wheel. When night came, and the op- 
eratives returned to their homes, it was to dis- 
cuss the strangest thing that had ever befallen 
them. All who had been near the furnaces 
agreed in telling the same story. A band of 
men, athletic and vigorous, even more so than 
the former company, had suddenly and mys- 
teriously filled the places of the strikers. 
With accustomed hands they accomplished 
the work, displaying an energy and dispatch 
that won the respect of all beholders. A silent 
company they were, answering no questions, 
asking none. For drink using oaten meal and 
water, in the strength of which they accom- 
plished a third more than had their liquor- 
drinking predecessors. The story had flown from 
lip to lip throughout the mill. All who could 
possibly do so, made excuses for passing by the 
furnaces. Even the superintendents and foremen 
were as much astonished and as curious as any. 



43^ J^IS OPPORTUNITY, 

Several of them took occasion to visit the 
office, hoping that Chamberlain might throw 
some light on the subject. But he was so 
polite, reticent, and business-like, that none dared 
question him. When evening came, therefore, 
the whole village knew the story, but not one 
could imagine where the strangers came from, 
or when or how they had arrived. The very 
mystery of the thing struck a chill to the 
hearts of the operatives. ^ They were willing to 
strike if sure of success, but if their places 
were filled as soon as vacant, by better 
men than themselves, without a word of protest, 
it gave the affair a different aspect. The con- 
descending pity with which they had regarded 
Chamberlain, was transformed into a most de- 
cided respect. The whole village stood, hat in 
hand, waiting on his pleasure, where, the day 
before, it had merely tolerated him with 'partial 
good-nature. The strikers saluted him sheepishly, 
having left their confident airs at the feet of 
their successors. 

On rolled the wheels of the great mill ; 
busily throbbed the engine; like silver bells 
rang the myriad hammers, and the work went 
steadily on. Except for the occasional discharge 
of a drunken man, there were no new develop* 
ments. From the moment that the mysterious 



TRYING IT ON, 437 



puddlers stood in their places, the victory was 
won. How much anxiety Chamberlain felt in 
this matter no one can ever know. How many 
times he had locked himself in his office and 
prayed that ignornnt, arrogant Steep Street 
might now learn a healthful lesson; how eagerly 
had he scanned the faces of the operatives, as 
they thronged out through the open doors, to 
read, if possible, the success of his experiment ! 
That it was a master-stroke, the bearing of 
each employ^ showed. Now all that he waited 
for was the submisson of the striking puddlers. 
A week of idleness and reflection was enough 
to bring them to terms. One or two single 
men, it is true, sought and found work, but the 
main body of them were family men, dependent 
upon the day's wages, with nothing ahead except 
a few bad debts. 

It was the brawny Scotchman who made the 
£rst advances towards reconciliation. With no 
trace of the former aggressiveness, he again 
appeared at the office. This time he was neatly 
dressed, carefully shaven, exceedingly subdued. 

"Good-morning, Mr. Chamberlain," he said, 
with an awkward cough. 

" Good-morning," was the pleasant reply. 

**I thought I would come in and speak with 
yc a moment." 



43^ ffIS OPPORTUNITY. 



" Yes." 

A long silence ensued. Chamberlain, alrnough 
deeply interested in the visit, did not think it 
advisable to smooth the path that the strikers 
had roughened. 

" Mr. Chamberlain," said the old man, at 
length, "rum makes fules of mony men. I Ve 
a wife and bairns at home. They have no 
bread. Sic a fule as they have for a provider, 
who threw up a good job at the call of his 
worst enemy, rum! Have you no wark that you 
can give us foolish fellows about the mill } " 

" You are willing to abide by the rules ? " 

"We are." 

"Be in your places Monday morning, all of 
you. Good-day." 

Thus dismissed, the Scotchman ponderously 
withdrew. The next Monday morning the pud- 
dlers, subdued and thankful, took their old sta- 
tions, and the work went forward as before. 
The strangers, with whom none of the opera- 
tives had been able to form acquaintance, who 
had boarded at the teamster's, adjoining the 
mill, had disappeared as suddenly as they ar- 
rived. 

The mystery connected with them wonderfully 
impressed the mill folk. It gave them an im- 
pression of unlimited resources at the disposaJ 



TRYING IT ON 439 



of their employer. Most thoroughly was their 
lesson learned. A long stride in the right di- 
rection was made by this management of the 
affair. There was, of course, a certain amount 
of liquor consumed by stealth in the mill set- 
tlement, but in comparison with that formerly 
used, it was as nothing. 

As the people became sober, their interest in 
the mission increased. The little room that had 
once been Temple's store was crowded. Pfaff's 
building, which was larger and more convenient, 
was therefore taken. Among those whose testi- 
monies swayed the audience, and brought many 
forward as signers of the temperance pledge, were 
Temple, Gaffney, and Putnam. To these might 
be added Tam McDonald, Chamberlain, and the 
Rev. Charles Snow. These six speakers were 
always heard and welcomed. 

Daily the interest grew. Steep Street, at last 
aroused to her condition, was vigorously bestir- 
ring herself to shake off the shackles of sin. 
Those who had never heard a sermon were at- 
tending the meetings. Aged reprobates, whose 
lives had been spent in scoffing, were on their 
knees. The work was begun. Earnest, prayerful 
hearts were pledged to carry it on. No failure 
could come except through their want of faith. 



440 HIS OPPORTUNITY. 



XXXII. 

STOUTISH man, with steel blue eyes and 
red whiskers, dressed in a suit of faded 
blue, wearing linen that bore the stains of travel, 
was walking up the main street of a New Eng- 
land factory village. With an air of easy assur- 
ance, he looked around at the neat cottages of 
the laborers, at the carefully-kept gardens, at the 
rows of shade-trees that adorned the level road. 
Stopping in front of a cottage a trifle more pre- 
tentious than the rest, he spoke to a man who 
was busily pruning a tiny hedge. 

"Is this the mill-village of Steelville .? " he in- 
quired. 

The person to whom this was addressed straight- 
ened up, and said, with good nature, — 

'*Yes, sir; that's just what it is." 

** I never should have known it," said the 
stranger. "I was tolerably familiar with the place 
ten years ago." 



RESULTS, 441 



"Perhaps you know me; most of the people in 
the village did. My* name is Sam Putnam. Did 
you ever hear it .^ " said the other. 

The other shook his head slowly, saying, — 

"I have a poor memory for names." 

"But I have an excellent one," returned Put- 
nam. "Might I inquire yours?" 

The stranger drew from his pocket a soiled 
card, and handed it over the fence. Upon it was 
printed "Mr. J. Winslow Smith, Phrenologist." 

With a look of contempt, Sam handed it back. 

"What was your name ten years ago," he 
asked. 

The stranger started, but recovering himself, 
said, with gentle suavity, — 

"I was then J. Winslow Smith, book-agent. 
Ten years of study in foreign lands have fitted 
me to practise my vocation. Having some ac- 
quaintance in Steelville, and being on my way 
to the great metropolis, I concluded to make a 
call upon this, my old home." 

"What were the names of your friends.?" in- 
quired Sam. 

Mr. Smith made no reply. Instead, he sighed 
deeply and glanced toward the spire of the church 
showing faintly through the trees. 

"There have been remarkable changes here," 
be said. 



44^ ^/^ OPPORTUNITY. 

" Well, I should rather think so. This does n'l 
look much more like old, dilapidated Steep Street 
than the New Jerusalem looks like the City of 
Destruction." 

"It must have cost something. How was it 
done } Who paid the bills .<* " inquired Smith, with 
a touch of acrimony in his voice. 

" Oh, the File Company in part, and the people 
in part," said Sam, answering the last ques- 
tion. "As you no doubt remember, the old settle- 
ment was on a steep hillside, — so steep that peo- 
ple had to wear spikes in their shoes to keep 
fpom sliding down into the river. There was no 
chance for gardens, nor room for any thing out 
doors but children and goats. Mr. Chamberlain, 
who had just taken charge of the file-works yon- 
der, saw that on this side of the river was room 
for the most beautiful, level village that was ever 
laid out. It was, to be sure, covered with thick- 
ets and away from the main road. He had the 
land surveyed into house-lots, laid out roads, built 
a new bridge, and had the thickets cut off, and 
began to put up cottages. These he rented 
to the help. Mighty glad they were to get 
them. As fast as the old tenement-houses were 
emptied they were pulled down. 'Bug Palace,' 
the worst of the lot, burned one cold winter 
night." 



RESULTS, 443 

"I suppose he built the church," said Mr. 
Smith, with a sneer. 

"He helped, but the people did most of it.*' 

" Steep-street people build a church ! " 

" Certainly ; why not ? " 

" I should as soon think of Satan preaching 
the Gospel. Why, they were the most drunken, 
degraded, unchristian set that were ever drummed 
together." 

" I know they were, but it was rum that did 
it all. When that was removed, the people were 
all right." 

"Wasn't it a difficult thing to stop the drink- 
ing?" 

"It was that. It took two years to get it 
fairly under, not to speak of the two years 
that Mr. Chamberlain put in before that, under 
old Lamson," said Sam. 

" Who was this Lamson } " inquired J. Winslow 
Smith, with interest. 

"He was the agent, who took charge of the 
mills after the death of Robert Flint." 

"Was he smart?" 

" Not very ; he was too much of a hypocrite. 
He had an idea that he could cheat the Lord 
as easily as he could his fellow-men ; but a judg- 
ment fell on him. He got found out, and had 
to leave the country." 



444 HIS UPi*ORTUNITY, 

" Good enough for him ! '* was the pious re- 
joinder. 

For some minutes after this, neither of the 
men said a word. Putnam resumed his work, 
and the clipping of the huge shears was the only 
noise that broke the stillness. 

"Would it be possible for a person to get a 
little liquor for ' medicine, here } " finally asked 
Smith. 

" No, sir t Not a drop of liquor can be ob- 
tained ill the village. Why, the people hate it 
now worse than the young boss does. I believe 
they would mob a man for bringing a quart into 
town ! " was the emphatic reply. 

"I don't understand how this came about," 
said Smith, with a ring of sincerity in his 
tones. 

"It is a problem that a good many gave up," 
replied Putnam. "Lots of people think liquor- 
drinking can not be successfully handled, either 
by law or by moral suasion. Mr. Chamberlain's 
experiment with this village has proved them 
wrong. He made use of both. Where persua- 
sion would not avail, he substituted the strong 
arm of the law. This is now a gospel-temper- 
ance, prohibition town. It has its schools, its 
libiary, its debating club, its literary circle, its 
church, and not a single liquor-saloon. This vil- 



XRSULTS. 445 



lage has rij?en in answer to prayer; not that we 
prayed, and did nothing else, but prayer and 
work went hand in hand, and God blessed them, 
as he always does." 

Mr. Smith was somewhat uneasy under this 
temperance lecture. He fidgeted as if it made 
him uncomfortable. When it was finished, he 
asked one more question. 

"Are the file-works making money .^" 

"More than ever before. The goods that arc 
now turned out are first-class — the best in the 
market, and command a good price. Orders are 
'way ahead. I tell you, stranger, there are few 
men that possess the honest purpose, and the 
real ability, that Boss Chamberlain has." 

Thanking the good-natured giant for his in- 
formation. Dr. Smith walked slowly on through 
the village. As he neared the neat iron bridge 
that led over the river to the file-works, a 
buggy drawn by two spirited horses passed him. 
In it were a gentleman and lady and a little 
boy of five or six. The gentleman, with all the 
courtesy of a village king, bowed to the stranger 
who looked so eagerly and keenly at him. The 
salute was not returned. The benignant doctor, 
his heavy brows lowering with an ugly frown, 
strode across the bridge, by the busy factories^, 
and out of sight 



44^ HIS OPPORTUNITY. 

In the stately study of the old Flint mansion 
sat Tom Chamberlain, older than when we last 
saw him, thicker set, but still young, vigorous, 
prosperous. 

" Miriam," he said, addressing the lady who 
was reading near him, "whom do you suppose 
Putnam declares he saw in the village to-day?" 

"I*m sure I can not tell." 

" He says our old friend Lamson paid us a visit." 

"What did he want?" asked the young wife. 

"I imagine he expected at first to find Steep 
Street as ignorant and degraded as ever. He is 
going about the country as traveling phrenologist, 
calling himself Doctor Smith. Putnam's opinion 
is that he expected to examine heads here, but 
finding rum and ignorance had departed, had not 
the courage to practise his quackery." 

"It could not have been he," said Miriam. 
"Putnam must be mistaken." 

"I think he is right, my dear. He never for- 
gets faces, or voices, and he is very positive in 
his assertion." 

"How fortunate that his poor, dear mother 
can never know I Do you remember, Tom, how 
her last prayers were for her boy?" 

"I know it. The mother-love never changes. 
Perhaps those prayers may yet be answered. 
Who knows ? " 



RESULTS. 447 



"How can it be possible that he has fallen 
so low?" mused Miriam. 

"I suppose it is an old-fashioned belief that 
isuch things come as judgments, yet I cannot 
but think that Lam son's failure is directly trace- 
able to wrong-doing in business. The opportu- 
nity was given him to raise fallen Steep Street. 
None knew the right way better than he. De- 
liberately, he turned his back on it, and the 
Lord gave the work to others. Not that it is 
an unusual offense. This sin of neglect seems 
to be one of the greatest, as well as the most 
common. Its punishment is as sure as those of 
other sins. Even in this world, swift retribution 
overtakes it.